The Art Institute’s New Collection Is a Crash Course in Pop Art
The museum’s new 42-piece gift values at $400 million and fills a major aesthetic hole in its collection.
Published April 22, 2015, at 4:13 p.m.
Text by Matt Pollock
Poptimists, rejoice: The Art Institute last night received the largest gift in its 136-year history, and the thing skews colorful. Donated by plastics maven and art collector Stefan T. Edlis and his wife Gael Neeson, the 42-piece art collection includes works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstien, and Robert Rauschenberg, and serves as an ostensible crash course in pop art—previously lacking at the museum—and the late-20th century artists it influenced.
Valued at $400 million, Edlis and Neeson’s gift eclipses the Art Institute’s last major acquisition of 58 works from the Lannan Foundation in 1997. It also serves as a curtain call for Edlis, who will turn 90 in June and told the Tribune he doesn’t wish to stick his wife, 71, with a heaping collection when he’s gone. His one condition for donation: That the collection stay on display for 50 years in the museum’s Modern Wing and not be ushered into storage after a months-long exhibit.
Edlis and Neeson’s gift will go display in early 2016. Until then, browse 50 years of pop and post-pop painting with these 11 samples from the collection.