A rare watercolor of the Schuylkill landscape at the end of the 18th century by George Beck, 18 sculptures by 20th century artist John Rhoden, 17 works on paper by Helen Frankenthaler, the work Daddy Likee? by contemporary Philadelphia artist Kukuli Velarde, and several other artworks have been acquired by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
In all, PAFA announced that 111 works have recently entered its permanent collection by purchase or gift, including 35 prints by the Philadelphia-based Brandywine Workshop, founded by Allan Edmunds.
The Beck watercolor is currently on display in the academy exhibition, “From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic,” curated by Anna O. Marley, PAFA’s curator of historical American art.
Beck was one of the earliest professional artists in America, and this painting was done while he was in Philadelphia, about the time he was commissioned by George Washington to paint scenes of the Potomac River at Mount Vernon.
“This is an incredibly rare watercolor by Beck,” Marley said. “Works by this artist rarely come onto the market. It’s also the first painting by George Beck to enter our collection, even though he lived and exhibited here in the 1790s.”
The exhibition is on view until Dec. 29.
The 17 sculptures by John Rhoden join seven that are currently on view in the Rhoden Arts Center Auditorium at PAFA.
“We have some of his most visually striking pieces," said Brittany Webb, curator of the Rhoden Collection at PAFA. "His work includes monuments, explorations of history and spirituality, animals, figuration and abstraction, and is influenced by his life in New York, and travels throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. All of that is represented in this suite of work for the permanent collection.”
PAFA is the repository for Rhoden’s estate — he died in 2001 — and in addition to acquiring works for its own collection, PAFA is placing Rhoden’s works in the collections of other institutions. A PAFA spokeswoman said that talks with other institutions are in progress.
The 17 Helen Frankenthaler works, gifts of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, include etchings, lithographic works, monoprints, screen prints, woodcuts, and other types of prints.
Before the acquisition, the academy had one Frankenthaler painting, Walnut Hedge (1971), on view in the Furness building. It also has one work by Frankenthaler on paper, Cameo (1980).
Kukuli Velarde’s Daddy Likee?, a self-portrait in acrylic, can be seen in “Eye Contact,” a PAFA exhibition on view until Sept. 15.
PAFA has also just acquired nine photographs by New York photographer Aaron Siskind, 13 photographs by artist James Van Der Zee, known for his visual images capturing the Harlem Renaissance, and a plaster relief sculpture of Walt Whitman (c. 1887) by artist Charles Grafly, who studied with Thomas Eakins.