When Gold Coast philanthropists Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson donated their $400 million collection of pop art to the Art Institute in April, the culturati looked on in awe. It was the biggest gift in the museum’s 136-year history: 44 masterpieces, including 10 paintings by Andy Warhol and sculptures by Jeff Koons and Charles Ray. “You could not bring these works together again today for any dollar amount,” says curator James Rondeau.
Starting December 13, the entire collection will go on display in an exhibition called The New Contemporary. Here’s a sneak peek.
Edlis and Neeson bought this painting, one of 10 Warhols in the collection, for nearly $32 million in 2014. “She’s epic, glamour, tragedy, product—all rolled into one,” says Rondeau of subject Elizabeth Taylor.
Edlis and Neeson waited years to buy a work by Twombly because “it had to be a Bolsena,” says Rondeau. “And it had to be this one.”
Johns’s ability to turn everyday objects into high art “completely changed the conversation of art in the mid–20th century,” says Rondeau.
One of four large-scale paintings in the Artist’s Studio series, this piece represents “a studio of the mind,” says Rondeau. The works are autobiographical but also pay homage to Henri Matisse’s 1911 paintings Red Studio and Pink Studio.
Playing with classic images of vulnerable female characters in distress, Sherman “borrows identities and personae” in her self-portraits, says Rondeau.