Major 20th century sculpture collection goes to Chazen Museum of Art
A major private collection of 20th century sculpture will be made accessible to the public in its new home at the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
The museum has announced the gift of the renowned Terese and Alvin S. Lane Collection, comprising more than 70 sculptures and 250 preparatory drawings by artists including Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, Pablo Picasso, and David Smith, among other modern masters.
The works will be installed in the museum’s expanded facility, which opens October 2011 and is designed by the team of Machado and Silvetti Associates and Continuum Architects + Planners.
During the course of four decades, New Yorkers Terese and Alvin S. Lane carefully assembled a collection of sculptural works dating from 1915 through the mid-1980s, with many of the most important artists of the period represented. The couple added depth to the collection by acquiring related works on paper, often working closely with the artists to do so. When viewed together, the three-dimensional pieces and preparatory drawings provide insight into the creative process. This visual exchange is essential to the Lane Collection, which was first presented publicly in an exhibition at the Chazen in 1995, on the occasion of the museum’s 25th anniversary. Fifteen works have been added since 1995. A selection from the collection was also exhibited in 2008.
In 1958, Alvin and Terese Lane acquired their first sculpture—José de Rivera’s motorized stainless steel Construction #46; Alvin Lane loved “the work’s sheer beauty.”
During the next three decades the Lanes acquired works by more than fifty American and European sculptors. Particularly rare pieces include Lee Bontecou’s bronze Bird (1958), Seymour Lipton’s Cerberus (1947), and John Storrs’ Forms in Space (ca. 1926). The Lanes’ fascination with the creative process inspired them to collect drawings by the sculptors represented in their collection. Their four sculptures by David Smith are accompanied by thirty-five of the artist’s drawings. The collection also includes significant drawings by Alexander Archipenko, Lee Bontecou, Alexander Calder, Julio González, Jacques Lipchitz, Seymour Lipton, Antoine Pevsner, Theodore Roszak, and John Storrs, among others.
In anticipation of receiving the Lane gift, the museum acquired sculptures and drawings that complemented their collection and created a more complete art historical teaching tool. For example, the Chazen purchased a unique lead cast of Raymond Duchamp-Villon’s Le cheval (conceived in 1914), Roszak’s Red Monument to the Lost Dirigible (1939–40), and Antoine Pevsner’s Construction in the Round (1925), as well as 117 drawings by the Pevsner ranging in date from 1912 through the late 1950s.
“An alumnus of the university and a devoted member of the museum’s advisory council, Alvin had a rare and deliberately didactic approach to collecting, focused from the outset on creating juxtapositions between sculpture and works on paper that revealed an artist’s process,” said museum director Russell Panczenko. “This extraordinary gift from a longstanding supporter in New York is a testament to our critical role as an educational resource for the campus and the broader community. It comes at a time when we are strengthening our service to students and other visitors with an expansion underway that will more than double the space for the study and presentation of our collections.”
“Our parents collected in a very thoughtful manner, and built a collection that is greater than the sum of its individual pieces,” said daughter Judy Lane. “It was therefore critical to them that the works be kept together and made accessible to the public, a vision that the Chazen Museum of Art understood and shared. Some of my father’s happiest experiences were at college in Madison, so it was deeply rewarding for him to be able to give back this incredible legacy.”
The Lanes were avid art collectors based in New York. Their collection began in the late 1950s as a quest for a painting to hang over a couch but quickly shifted focus, growing to become a major private collection of 20th-century American and European sculpture.
Alvin Lane—a lawyer with the firm of Wien, Lane & Klein—was fascinated with what he called the “tangible evidence of creativity,” an interest that led him to acquire sculptors’ preparatory drawings and other works on paper that showed the creative process behind the three-dimensional works. The couple formed close friendships with many of the artists represented in their collection, including Louise Nevelson, Christo and Jean-Claude, and Seymour Lipton, among others.
In addition to collecting, Alvin Lane served as chairman of a committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York that developed a program in 1965 to combat art fraud. In 1967, he served as a member of an art legislation advisory committee created by the New York State Attorney General. Terese Lane was an enthusiastic supporter of the performing arts and was actively involved in community affairs.
Alvin Lane was an alumnus of UW–Madison, class of 1940, and a devoted member of the Chazen advisory council. He and Terese Lane were both generous donors to the museum.
In October 2011, the museum will unveil an 86,000-square-foot expansion adjacent to its current facility. Designed by the team of Machado and Silvetti Associates and Continuum Architects + Planners, the program will more than double the gallery space for the presentation of the permanent collection and provide two distinct galleries for temporary exhibitions. New rooms for studying works on paper and objects, as well as a specialized art studio, will enhance access to—and engagement with—the collections. The $43-million project will strengthen the museum’s role as the leading art museum for the region and a hub for the arts on campus.
The new building will connect to the museum’s original Harry Weese–designed building with a third-floor bridge gallery that echoes the stonework and strong lines of the existing architecture, creating a contiguous façade, as well as a unified interior gallery plan.
Other features of the new building include a two-story glass-walled entrance lobby with a limestone “carpet”, a 160-seat auditorium, increased object storage space, two glass-box galleries, and dynamic new outdoor courtyard spaces. The addition reflects elements of Weese’s original 1968 design with a molded concrete exterior and copper roof and trim that mimic the aesthetics and materials of the existing building.
The two structures will frame a section of a new north-south pedestrian mall running through the heart of the university’s East Campus. A floor-to-ceiling glass mezzanine at the north side of the bridge gallery will provide dramatic views of the corridor that extends from the new museum plaza to Lake Mendota.
New galleries will be dedicated to African, Asian, Midwest regional, modern, and contemporary art. Recently acquired work will go on view for the first time in the new building’s 16,000 square feet devoted to the display of the permanent collection, including important works that have been stored for years due to space restrictions in the current facility.