Nasher Sculpture Center

Opened in 2003, the Nasher Sculpture Center is a museum in Dallas, Texas that houses a collection of modern and contemporary sculpture. It is located on a 2.4-acre (9,700 m 2) site adjacent to the Dallas Museum of Art in the heart of the Dallas Arts District. The mission of the Nasher is be an international focal point and catalyst for the study, installation, conservation, and appreciation of modern and contemporary sculpture. The museum was a longtime dream of the late Raymond and Patsy Nasher (Ray was the original owner of NorthPark Center), who together formed a comprehensive collection of masterpieces by Harry Bertoia, Constantin Brâncuşi, Alexander Calder, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Paul Gauguin, Willem de Kooning, Mark di Suvero, Alberto Giacometti, Barbara Hepworth, Ellsworth Kelly, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Richard Serra, and David Smith, among others, which continues to grow and evolve. Ray was asked by many international museums to allow them to house his collection, but chose to keep it in Dallas, and provide a venue in the center of the city. By placing the facility where he did, Ray Nasher began the realization of the Arts District in Dallas, which has since been enhanced by the construction of the Winspear Opera House and the Wiley Theater. Renzo Piano, winner of the Pritzker Prize in 1998, is the architect of the Center’s 55,000-square-foot (5,100 m 2) building. Piano worked in collaboration with landscape architect Peter Walker on the design of the 2-acre (8,100 m 2) Garden. The building was constructed by The Beck Group, which also served as associate architect. On display in the Galleries and Garden are rotating exhibitions of works from the Nasher Collection as well as special exhibitions drawn from other museums and private collections. In addition to indoor and outdoor gallery spaces, the Center contains an auditorium, education and research facilities, a cafe, and a store. Popular monthly events include Target First Saturdays for children and families, Til Midnight featuring Al Fresco dining, twilight strolls, bands and movies, and the NasherSalon series which welcomes distinguished speakers for an evening of discourse on art, architecture, and other cultural topics of interest. About the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection: The birth and growth of the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection started more than fifty years ago. In 1950, Raymond and Patsy traveled to Mexico, where they became interested in pre-Columbian art and bought the first works in what would become a sizable collection of objects from ancient Latin America. They soon purchased other ethnographic and archaeological works and also acquired a number of important American modernist works. Mr. Nasher often credited this early involvement with pre-Columbian and other tribal arts as having whetted the Nasher’s appetite for, and appreciation of, Modern three-dimensional works. By the mid-1960s, the Nashers had made their first significant purchases of modern sculpture. These included Jean Arp’s Torso with Buds (1961), two major bronzes by Henry Moore, Three Piece No. 3: Vertebrae (1968) and Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 9 (1968, no longer in the Collection), and Barbara Hepworth’s large and powerful Squares with Two Circles (Monolith) (1963, cast 1964). In rapid succession, they went on to acquire works by, among others, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, and Isamu Noguchi. Such purchases set a high standard for acquisitions to follow and excited them about the prospect of surrounding themselves with great art in their home. Mr. Nasher liked the idea that he might use sculptures to enliven spaces in his commercial real estate developments and eventually, began to rotate groups of works through his highly successful NorthPark Center. The Nasher’s guiding principle for acquisitions from the beginning was simple: the works had to move them personally. During the 1980s, the Nasher Collection grew at an accelerating pace. Outstanding works by virtually all the great masters of modern sculpture were added. Simultaneously, the Nashers became more deeply involved with work by living artists, exhibiting an eclectic and adventuresome taste that embraced diverse and sometimes very challenging, even troubling, objects. Some of the first major acquisitions in this area include Claes Oldenburg’s Pile of Typewriter Erasers (1970-74), Richard Serra’s Inverted House of Cards (1969-70), Donald Judd’s Untitled (1976), and Roy Lichtenstein’s Double Glass (1979). Works by younger artists such as Anish Kapoor, Richard Deacon, Jeff Koons, Scott Burton, and Martin Puryear soon followed. By 1987, the Nasher Collection had gained international recognition and was one of the first exhibitions in the Dallas Museum of Art’s new downtown building. The collection was subsequently presented in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; the Forte di Belvedere, Florence, Italy; and the Tel Aviv Museum, Israel. In October 1996, more than 70 sculptures from the collection were shown at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. In February 1997, 105 works of sculpture and painting from the Collection were exhibited in “A Century of Sculpture: The Nasher Collection” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Surveyed as a whole, the Nasher Collection demonstrates considerable balance between early modern works and art of the postwar period, abstraction and figuration, monumental outdoor and more intimately scaled indoor works, and the many different materials used in the production of modern art. Perhaps its single most distinguishing feature, however, is the depth with which it represents certain key artists, including Matisse (with eleven sculptures), Picasso (seven), Smith (eight), Raymond Duchamp-Villon (seven), Moore (eight), Miró (four), and Giacometti (thirteen). Such well-rounded perspectives on the development of these masters provide, in effect, a series of mini-retrospectives within the collection’s overall historical spectrum.


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