New-York Historical Society receives promised gift of
 more than 100 works from the Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection of New York Scenes

Works by Chagall, Hockney, Lawrence, O’Keeffe, and Rockwell among the Collection,
Major Exhibition Planned for 2021

 

New York, NY, May 26, 2020—Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, announced today an extraordinary promised gift from philanthropists and art collectors Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld. The couple’s “Scenes of New York City” collection comprises 130 artworks dating from the mid-19th through the 21st-centuries, including works by Isabel Bishop, Marc Chagall, David Hockney, Edward Hopper, Yvonne Jacquette, Jacob Lawrence, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O’Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, and Andy Warhol, among others. The collection of paintings, works on paper in various media, and sculpture includes 113 works by 82 artists not currently represented in New-York Historical’s collection. The works are united by a thematic thread that celebrates New York City: its buildings, bridges, parks, landmarks, and people. A major exhibition with an accompanying publication is planned for fall 2021, and a dedicated space, the Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Gallery, Scenes of New York City, will showcase a rotation of works from the Collection.

The Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection features works by significant American artists from movements specifically associated with New York City—such as the Ashcan School, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop Art—as well as a roster of leading international artists demonstrating their affinity for the city. New-York Historical’s nationally recognized collection of American paintings is best known for its Hudson River School landscapes, colonial portraiture, and 19th-century genre painting. The Hirschfeld gift, with its strong representation of 20th-century artists, is a landmark acquisition that rounds out New-York Historical’s collections with vivid representations of the City during the last century. Among the artists who will be represented for the first time are Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning, Lyonel Feininger, Edward Hopper, Fernand Léger, John Marin, Reginald Marsh, Mark Rothko, and Edward Shinn. Works by Theresa Bernstein, Keith Haring, William Glackens, Childe Hassam, and Robert Henri strengthen New-York Historical’s holdings by those artists.

“Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld’s ‘Scenes of New York City’ collection is truly transformative for the New-York Historical Society, adding works by many major artists of the 20th century who will be represented in our collection for the first time,” said Dr. Mirrer. “These illustrative works of art will allow us to provide a more comprehensive understanding to our visitors of how New York City has flourished and changed over the last century. This gift demonstrates the pivotal role arts and culture play in our society, and we are especially grateful to Elie and Sarah for their support during these challenging times.”

“This collection is the result of my lifetime dedication to art that portrays New York City and the people who make it unique, and I knew I needed to find the right home for it,” said Elie Hirschfeld. “Sarah and I are proud to place this collection with the New-York Historical Society, an institution that has striven for more than two centuries to preserve New York City history for future generations.”

Among the highlights of the Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection are:

Robert Henri (1865–1929), Snow in Central Park, 1902. Oil on canvas; 26 x 32 in. New-York Historical Society, Promised Gift of Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection, Scenes of New York City

Robert Henri’s Snow in Central Park demonstrates a stark depiction of the urban grounds. The rough brushstrokes, muddied snow, and oppressive sky rebuke the prettiness of Impressionist winter renderings popular at the time. The painting is characteristic of the Ashcan School that Henri founded—a movement focused on gritty and unidealized views of city life in New York that helped to usher in a vital American modernity.

Norman Rockwell (1894–1978), Gramercy Park, ca. 1918. Oil on canvas; 30 1/8 x 19 in. New-York Historical Society, Promised Gift of Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection, Scenes of New York City

Gramercy Park is a hallmark of Norman Rockwell’s early career. The painting offers a rare glimpse into the artist’s childhood and student days in New York City. At the same time, it presages the signature features of his mature work: the penchant for visual storytelling and celebration of the everyday that would transform him into one of the most popular and beloved illustrators of 20th-century American life. 

 

Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000), Harlem Diner, 1938. Gouache on paper laid down on board; 12 5/8 x 19 1/8 in. New-York Historical Society, Promised Gift of Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection, Scenes of New York City.         © 2020 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 Harlem Renaissance artist Jacob Lawrence, celebrated for his documentation of the black experience in America, was just 23 years old when he completed a series of 60 small paintings about “The Great Migration” of African Americans from the rural south to the urban north in 1941. Harlem Diner, a prelude to that series, depicts the African American experience during the Great Depression and the anguish experienced in an era of joblessness.

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986), Study forBrooklyn Bridge”, 1949. Charcoal and black chalk on paper; 39 7/8 x 29 1/2 in. New-York Historical Society, Promised Gift of Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection, Scenes of New York City. © 2020 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Pioneering abstractionist Georgia O’Keeffe executed this work (and its corresponding painting in the Brooklyn Museum’s collection) around the time she left New York to live permanently in New Mexico. She may have created them as homages to her success in the city and also as a monument to the power of bridges to connect people and places—thus as a gateway to her new life. The drawing’s sweeping cables create a valentine to New York, a place where she and legendary photographer Alfred Stieglitz launched their seminal careers.

Louise Nevelson (1899–1988), America * New York, 1965. Painted wood on wooden plinth; 44 1/8 x 21 1/8 x 15 1/8 in. New-York Historical Society, Promised Gift of Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection, Scenes of New York City. © 2020 Estate of Louise Nevelson / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 World-renowned artist Louise Nevelson created America * New York in 1965. The dramatic all-black assemblage exemplifies her signature cubist-style sculpture. It comprises a series of boxes, made of found scraps of wood, that slot together to form a darkly dreamlike construction evocative of a futuristic human figure or anthropomorphic skyscraper—a metaphor, perhaps, for the city or city life. Nevelson, who described New York as her “mirror,” persevered against early gender-based discrimination to become one of the most significant sculptors of the 20th century.

Giorgio de Chirico (1888–1978), Interno metafisico a Manhattan, 1972. Oil on canvas; 19 1/2 x 15 3/4 in. New-York Historical Society, Promised Gift of Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection, Scenes of New York City. © 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome

The Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico painted Interno metafisico a Manhattan while visiting New York in 1972. The painting unsettles with its unexpected jumble of inanimate objects set in a distorted and claustrophobic interior that floats against the city sky. The composition reworks Manhattan into a dreamlike and impossible world. It exemplifies the artist’s mature metaphysical paintings—his reengagement with a style spearheaded during his early career that profoundly impacted the French avant-garde and Surrealists.

David Hockney (b. 1937), View from the Mayflower Hotel, New York (Evening), 2002. Watercolor and crayon on paper; 24 x 18 1/8 in. New-York Historical Society, Promised Gift of Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection, Scenes of New York City. © David Hockney. Photo credit: Richard Schmidt.

As an important contributor to the Pop Art movement of the 1960s, David Hockney is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. Although he resides part-time in California, he also visits New York where he drew this high-key, optimistic view—a verdant slice of Central Park, bordered by the skyscrapers of Central Park South and framed by a purple window casement—from his room on a high floor of the Mayflower Hotel. The hotel closed its doors in 2004 shortly after Hockney painted this watercolor.

About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history. New-York Historical is also home to the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, one of the oldest, most distinguished libraries in the nation—and one of only 20 in the United States qualified to be a member of the Independent Research Libraries Association—which contains more than three million books, pamphlets, maps, newspapers, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings.

The New-York Historical Society is located at 170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY 10024. Information: (212) 873-3400. Website: nyhistory.org. Follow the museum on social media at @nyhistory on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube and Tumblr.

Press Contacts
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New-York Historical Society                             New-York Historical Society
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Image credits: David Hockney (b. 1937), View from the Mayflower Hotel, New York (Evening), 2002. Watercolor and crayon on paper; 24 x 18 1/8 in. New-York Historical Society, Promised Gift of Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection, Scenes of New York City. © David Hockney. Photo credit: Richard Schmidt.

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986), Study forBrooklyn Bridge”, 1949. Charcoal and black chalk on paper; 39 7/8 x 29 1/2 in. New-York Historical Society, Promised Gift of Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection, Scenes of New York City. © 2020 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Date: 
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Creative: Tronvig Group