This weekend an exhibit from the collection of noted early 20th century photographer and art collector Alfred Stieglitz opens to the public at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.
The highly anticipated showing comes after a protracted legal battle involving the Attorney General of Tennessee, who argued that the collection should stay in his state.
Stieglitz’s wife Georgia O’Keeffe donated the collection to the historic African American college Fisk University in 1949 with the stipulation that it could never be sold.
In August 2012, the university in Nashville announced an agreement to share half-interest in the prized 101 piece collection of modern masterpieces with Crystal Bridges. The museum paid $30 million for the half share . The collection has a value reported at $75 million.
The debut exhibition, which opens to the public Saturday, is titled “The Artist’s Eye: Georgia O’Keeffe and the Alfred Stieglitz Collection.”
Jacqueline Froelich with Fayetteville station KUAF attended a private media preview Thursday and spoke with Dr. Victor Simmons, longtime curator and director of Fisk University Galleries. You can listen to her report above.
Simmons traveled to Arkansas for the opening and said he was very pleased with how the agreement has worked out and the space being allowed to show the collection.
"It has been a long time in coming. I don't think any of us could have envisioned that it would be this wonderful. It's spectacular," Simmons said.
Crystal Bridges, which was created by Walmart heiress Alice Walton, and Fisk University now jointly care for and co-curate the collection, rotating on a two year basis.
Simmons says there was some worry as the collection was leaving its longtime home in Nashville, but that those at Fisk University are happy with how things have turned out.
"I can see the relief on everyone's face as everyone sort of took a deep breath and said, 'we're going to be OK. Everything's going to be OK.' And for those who will come and view this side of the story now, they will say 'we're going to be better than OK," Simmons said.
Among the notable works being featured is O'Keefe's "Radiator Building at Night," a 48 by 30 inch oil on canvas, which was painted from the couple's home on the 13th floor of the Shelton Hotel in New York.
Others artists included in the exhibit are Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Arthur Dove and Charles Demuth, all part of Stieglitz’s close circle of influence.
The European modern masters wing has lithographs by post impressionist Paul Cezanne, bohemian posters by Toulouse-Lautrec, an oil painting by Pablo Picasso, a cubist painting by Diego Rivera, and African sculpture which inspired all of them.
The middle gallery is dedicated to the groundbreaking photographs of Alfred Stieglitz, including his photogravures, etched copper plate prints.
The exhibit runs through February. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children under 18 years of age and museum members. People can learn more by clicking here.
Crystal Bridges of American Art opened in 2011, endowed with a $1.2 billion operating, acquisition and capital improvements budget, provided by the Walton Family Foundation.