We provide vital support to cultural institutions and arts organizations throughout the world via our extensive program of sponsorships and grants.

Global sponsor, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Rich in tradition, innovative in vision

Founded in 1891, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), which celebrates its 125th season in 2015/16, is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest orchestras. Bank of America has partnered with the CSO for more than a decade, becoming the Global Sponsor in the historic 2010/11 season, when Maestro Riccardo Muti began his tenure as music director. Muti’s dedication to bringing live symphonic music, performed at the highest artistic level, to the broadest possible audience has served as the cornerstone of the CSO’s mission.

Committed to that mission, as Global Sponsor, we have embarked on the most significant sponsorship in CSO history, providing unprecedented support for the orchestra’s concerts and events at home and abroad. The CSO’s dynamic season is complemented by performances by the world’s most esteemed artists from all cultures and in all genres. 

The CSO is also a leader in music education and community engagement, offering some of the most innovative programs of any United States orchestra. The CSO’s Institute for Learning, Access and Training offers twenty programs that reach more than 200,000 people each year – fostering children’s cognitive development and creative growth, offering training to young musicians and providing access for all. 

Acclaimed worldwide, the CSO has performed sold-out concerts in 28 countries across five continents during its 58 international tours. CSO radio broadcasts reach twenty million listeners each year via 260 terrestrial stations, satellite radio and internet downloads. The CSO has earned 62 Grammy® Awards, more than any other individual or ensemble in history. In 2007, the orchestra launched its own record label, CSO Resound. Recordings on this label have won five Grammy® Awards, including Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance and Best Choral Performance. On September 11, 2015, the label released its fifth recording of a Muti-led performance by the CSO. Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique and Lélio, is a two-disc set that was recorded live in September 2010 at Orchestra Hall, during Riccardo Muti’s first subscription concerts with the orchestra at the start of his tenure as music director. 

September 2015 also marked the beginning of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s celebration of its 125th season. To honor this major milestone, throughout the 2015/16 season, virtually every program will feature the performance of at least one work that was originally premiered by the orchestra. In keeping with this tradition, twenty-two distinguished artists will make their debuts with the CSO during the 2015/16 season. 

This season also marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. To commemorate, Muti will lead the CSO in Berlioz’s dramatic choral symphony, Romeo and Juliet and complete his traversal of Verdi’s Shakespeare-inspired operas with three performances of Falstaff

Throughout the season, Muti has curated a wide-ranging repertoire that will feature, among other composers, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Charpentier, Corglianio, Ginastera, Mozart, Prokofiev and Tchaiskovsky. Guest residencies include maestros Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sir Mark Elder, Charles Dutoit and Christoph von Dohnányi. 

The CSO will also make its first Asian tour with Muti to five cities for nine performances in Taipei, Taiwan; Tokyo, Japan; Shanghai and Beijing, China; and Seoul, South Korea. Stateside, the orchestra will travel for performances in Kansas City and Ann Arbor, and make its debut in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 

Other highlights include 125 free community concerts and the performance of CSO-commissioned works by Pascal Dusapin and Elizabeth Ogonek. From the CSO’s multimedia Beyond the Score series, works by Bernstein, Falla and Janáček will be featured. And joining the CSO for exclusive one-night appearances are renowned pianists Evgeny Kissin and Lang Lang. 

Capping the 125th Anniversary season on June 30, July 1 and July 2, 2016, the CSO will perform John Williams’ epic film score for Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Raiders of the Lost Ark, live at Symphony Center. The screenings mark the 35th anniversary of the iconic film that launched the adventures of fictional archaeologist Indiana Jones.

Major support, international tour:
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
“Cultural ambassador to the world”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been celebrating the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition for more than 50 years. Recognized by Congress as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” the company has performed for more than 23 million people in 48 states and in 71 countries on six continents.

Support enabling major American performing arts organizations to tour internationally is part of Bank of America’s strategy to increase cultural understanding and open opportunities for dialogue through the arts. At each stop, thousands of people are able to enjoy fine performances and share a cultural experience with other audiences throughout the world.

Bank of America is proud to support the Ailey company’s major international appearances for 2015. A four-week engagement at Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet for Les Étés de la Danse International Dance Festival will take place July 7 – August 1. After 17 years, a historic return to South Africa has been scheduled from September 3 - 20 with performances in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Extensive educational activities in area schools, communities and townships will occur, similar to Ailey’s historic 1997 residency in post-apartheid South Africa following the lifting of the international cultural boycott.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was founded in 1958 by dancer/choreographer Alvin Ailey to share the richness of African-American culture and American modern dance with the world. When Ailey began creating dances, he drew upon his memories of Texas, the blues, spirituals and gospel as inspiration, which gave rise to his most popular and critically acclaimed work, Revelations. Since its debut in 1960, Ailey's Revelations has moved audiences around the world through its powerful storytelling and soul-stirring music, evoking timeless themes of determination, hope, and transcendence. More people have seen Revelations than any other modern dance work in history.

Other works to be performed include repertory favorites Night Creature, Alvin Ailey’s homage to the musical genius of American composer Duke Ellington; the spiritually-charged work Grace by celebrated choreographer Ronald K. Brown; Chroma, a 2013 company premiere filled with layered, beautiful dancing and astonishing lifts by multi- award-winning British choreographer Wayne McGregor; and a high-flying and humorous solo, Takademe, by artistic director Robert Battle.

Major support for The Met: HD Live in Schools
The thrill of live opera for teachers and students

Major funding for The Met: HD Live in Schools  is made possible by Bank of America, with program support provided through a partnership with the New York City Department of Education and other school districts across the country. 

Through HD Live in Schools, teachers, students and parents can experience the world’s greatest conductors, directors, musicians and singers in riveting productions. The program, which uses opera to teach music, theater, history and English language arts, will reaches students in five New York City high schools and 40 school districts in 30 states throughout the country. Teachers receive educator guides and annual training opportunities that enable them to conduct in-class workshops, which prepare students to attend live movie theater transmissions of operas—direct from the Met stage—all free of charge. 

Each opera is chosen based on a variety of considerations, including the opera’s applicability to the general curriculum and engaging content for young audiences. This season’s featured operas include Richard Strauss' Elektra, Alban Berg's Lulu, Giuseppe Verdi's Otello, as well as revivals of Giacomo Puccini's Turandot and Madama Butterfly

Elektra is the riveting ancient Greek tale the heroine’s quest for vengeance for the murder of her father, Agamemnon. Renowned soprano Nina Stemme plays the title role. 

Lulu is considered one of the most important stageworks of the twentieth century. It tells the story of a young dancer who rises in German society through her relationships with wealthy men, but who later meets a tragic fate. Soprano Marlis Petersen plays the title role.

Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello, based on Shakespeare’s masterpiece and originally performed at the Met in 1891, brings together an outstanding cast led by Aleksandr Antonenko in the title role. 

Two revivals of Giacomo Puccini’s work will be brought to the Met stage this season, Anthony Minghella’s production of Madama Butterfly and Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Turnadot. Set in the port city of Nagasaki at the end of the twentieth century, Madama Butterfly is a young geisha who clings to the belief that her arrangement with a visiting American naval officer is a genuine marriage. Soprano Kristine Opolais reprises her role in the original production. Puccini’s Turnadot –his final opera—is an epic fairy tale about a Chinese princess whose riddles her suitors must solve, on pain of death if mistaken, in order to win her hand. Sopranos Lise Lindstrom and Nina Stemme take turns in the title role.

Watch Soprano Patricia Racette meeting with students at New York's Long Island City High School in Queens to discuss her role as Nedda in the Met's new production of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci.

Season sponsor, Carnegie Hall
The world’s most famous concert hall

Bank of America is the proud Season Sponsor of Carnegie Hall. Carnegie Hall features the world’s finest orchestras, chamber ensembles and recitalists, as well as pop, world and jazz artists, along with new music and special commissions. 

Carnegie Hall’s mission is to present extraordinary music and musicians on the three stages of this legendary hall, to bring the transformative power of music to the widest possible audience, to provide visionary education programs, and to foster the future of music through the cultivation of new works, artists, and audiences.

Bank of America also supports Carnegie Hall’s educational program, Carnegie Hall’s Musical Exchange. The program provides a global online community where young musicians (ages 13-25) connect with each other, share their musical performances, and participate in groups and projects led by professional artists from Carnegie Hall. Musical Exchange focuses on musical sharing, creativity, and international collaboration. Young musicians from all over the world - all levels and all musical styles - are invited to join the community.

Highlights from the 2014/15 season include UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa, a celebration of the nation’s cultural and linguistic diversity. Ubuntu translates as “I am because you are,” reflecting South Africans’ belief in the importance of community, reconciliation and inclusion. The festival, dedicated to Nelson Mandela’s legacy, extends throughout New York, with events at leading cultural institutions that include music, film, art exhibitions and more. 

Before Bach celebrates the music of the era before the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach in 1685. From Renaissance madrigals to early Baroque opera, Carnegie Hall brings together an assemblage of artists who make early music come alive for a contemporary audience. 

Also this season, Meredith Monk holds the 2014–2015 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair. Celebrating fifty years since her professional debut in 1964, Monk’s performances with her Vocal Ensemble and special guests feature her influential piano, chamber, orchestral and vocal works. 

From the Carnegie Hall Perspectives series, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato collaborates with a range of musical artists from The English Concert and Brentano String Quartet to The Philadelphia Orchestra to perform music of the bel canto era. Another Perspectives series features Anne-Sophie Mutter, a violinist who is dedicated to preserving and creating classical music for the future. Mutter is adding new works for violin to the classical repertoire while also cultivating and promoting new musicians through her foundation. 

In homage to popular classics from a more recent era, Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke celebrates Frank Sinatra. Let’s Be Frank brings to the stage The New York Pops and an all-star cast of guest performers including Tony DeSare, Storm Large, Frankie Moreno and Ryan Silverman.

National sponsor: Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World

Bank of America was pleased to be the National Sponsor of Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World. The exhibition was a collaboration with the Palazzo Strozzi, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, and the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana, Florence, along with the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. 

The collection of large-scale bronzes was on view at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., from December 13, 2015 - March 20, 2016, the Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, from March 14 - June 21, 2015 and the Getty from July 28 - November 1, 2015.

Power and Pathos was the first major international exhibition to bring together more than 50 ancient bronzes from the Mediterranean region and beyond, ranging from the 4th century B.C. to the 1st century A.D. During the three centuries between the reigns of Alexander the Great and Emperor Augustus, artists around the Mediterranean created innovative, realistic sculptures of physical power and emotional intensity. Bronze—with its reflective surface, malleable strength, and ability to hold the finest details—was used to fashion dynamic compositions, graphic expressions of age and character, and impressive interpretations of the human figure. This major international loan exhibition united large-scale bronzes of the Hellenistic age that are usually exhibited in isolation.

The exhibition was organized into six sections: Images of Rulers, Bodies Ideal and Extreme, Images of the Gods, The Art of Replication, Likeness and Expression, and Retrospective Styles.

Large-scale bronze sculptures are among the rarest survivors of antiquity; they were often melted down and recycled. Many bronzes known today still exist because they were once lost at sea, only to be discovered centuries later.

When viewed in proximity to one another, the variety of styles and techniques employed by ancient artists is emphasized to greater effect, as are the purposes and histories of the works.  Exhibited together, they tell a rich story of artistic accomplishment as well as the political and cultural interests of the people who commissioned, created and beheld them more than two thousand years ago.

Bronze, an alloy of copper, tin, lead and other trace elements cast in molds, was a medium well suited to reproduction, and the exhibition provides an unprecedented opportunity to see objects of the same type, and even from the same workshop, together for the first time.   For example, the two herms (a statue consisting of a squared stone pillar with a carved head) of Dionysos– the Mahdia Herm from the Bardo National Museum, Tunisia, and the Getty Herm, were actually made in the same workshop, and have not been shown together since antiquity.

Although rarely surviving today, multiple versions of the same work were the norm in the ancient world.  A good example is the figure of an athlete holding a stirgil, a curved blade used to clean oil and dirt off the skin. Power and Pathos brought together three bronze casts – two full statues and a head – that are late Hellenistic or early Roman imperial versions of a statue created in the 300s BC by a leading sculptor of the time.   This seems to have been one of the most popular works of the era, and copies were made well into the Roman Imperial period.

The J. Paul Getty Museum collects Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts to 1900, as well as photographs from around the world to the present day. The Museum's mission is to display and interpret its collections, and present important loan exhibitions and publications for the enjoyment and education of visitors locally and internationally. This is supported by an active program of research, conservation, and public programs that seek to deepen visitors’ knowledge of and connection to works of art.

Sponsor: Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots
Seldom seen works by a modern master

Bank of America was pleased to sponsor Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots,  at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) from November 20, 2015 through March 20, 2016. Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, the largest survey of Pollock’s black paintings ever assembled, was developed in collaboration with the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. The exhibition was co-organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and Tate Liverpool where it was presented earlier this year. The exhibition at the DMA served as the exclusive U.S. presentation and the only venue outside of Europe to present these masterworks. 

This exceptional exhibition included many works that had not been exhibited for more than 50 years, and several which were considered missing. Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots offered vital new learning on this understudied yet pivotal period in the artist’s career and provided new insights into Pollock’s practice. 

The exhibition first introduced audiences to Pollock’s work though a selection of his well-known drip paintings made between 1947 and 1949, including No. 2, a work from the Harvard Art Museums’ collection that has not traveled in over 20 years. These works served to contextualize the radical departure represented by the black paintings, a series of black enamel and oil paintings on originally untreated canvas that Pollock created between 1951 and 1953. While Jackson Pollock’s leading role in the abstract expressionist movement has been widely discussed, less attention has been devoted to his black paintings period. An unprecedented 28 black paintings were included in the DMA presentation, nearly twice as many as the next largest survey of these works (which was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in 1967). The black paintings assembled for the exhibition included significant loans from U.S., Asian, and European collections, as well as important works drawn from the collections of the DMA and Tate. 

Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots expanded the DMA’s growing studies on modern and contemporary art by focusing on a crucial period in the career of one of the most influential and revolutionary artists of the twentieth century. It exposed new audiences to this important and under-examined aspect of Pollock’s work. One of the paintings on view, Echo: Number 25, 1951, on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, was conserved through the Bank of America Art Conservation Project in 2013. Echo: Number 15, 1951 is a radical departure from Pollock’s earlier "drip" paintings. 

The conservators found clues about Pollock’s artistic process when they noticed spines of paint on the back of the canvas, inside the broader marks of black. They knew from the recollections of Lee Krasner, Pollock’s widow, that he had used a turkey baster to spread enamel paint on the canvas. The lines correspond to the points where the baster touched the surface of the picture. 

Over time, the exposed canvas had degraded and yellowed to an uneven color that was different at the top of the picture, which had been exposed to more light and heat over the years. In a painstaking procedure involving moisture, blotting, and TLC, the conservators reduced the discoloration considerably. The results removed years from the painting’s appearance. 

Also featured in the exhibition were several works on paper made by Pollock during the same period as the black paintings. Made with enamel and ink and watercolor, the works on paper are considered by scholars to be the artist’s most important as a draftsman. The exhibition also featured five of Pollock’s existing six sculptures, which provide a three-dimensional experience of his signature painting approach. Together with the 34 paintings on view, these works immersed audiences in Pollock’s works and shed new light on the experimentation and ingenuity that has become synonymous with his practice.

Sponsor: Wyeth: Andrew and Jamie in the Studio
Iconic American realism by father and son artists

Bank of America was pleased to sponsor Wyeth: Andrew and Jamie in the Studio at the Denver Art Museum from November 8, 2015 through February 7, 2016.

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) showcased Wyeth: Andrew and Jamie in the Studio, an unprecedented exhibition of this scale exploring the art of Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) and his son, Jamie Wyeth (b. 1946), two of the most celebrated American painters of the twentieth century. The exhibition explores the creative process for these contemporary American realists working within a long family tradition, and featured more than 100 works executed in a variety of media: pen and ink, graphite, chalk, watercolor, dry brush, tempera, oil and mixed media.

Additional works by Andrew Wyeth, including Antler Crown, On the Edge and Bird House, were on view on level 6 of the North Building. These artworks were on loan from the Bank of America Art Collection. Following the Wyeth: Andrew and Jamie in the Studio presentation in Denver, the exhibition travels to Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, Spain. 

This exhibition explores the connection between two American artists who shared artistic habits of mind while maintaining their own unique artistic voices. Never before has an exhibition displayed Andrew Wyeth’s and Jamie Wyeth’s work on this scale and in the shared context of their autobiographies, studio practices, and imaginations. Despite their similar sensibilities, studio practice, and rural Pennsylvania upbringing, the two artists produced strikingly different work. However, they also employed a wide range of processes in works that parallel and complement each other. This artistic conversation is evident when considering the artists’ vast output of preliminary work—much of which has remained unpublished until now—alongside their iconic paintings. Visitors who are new to the work of Andrew and Jamie Wyeth, and those who know these artists well, will appreciate seeing their art converge and diverge over the years.

By looking at the artists’ creative processes through the lens of their studio practice, visitors will develop a nuanced understanding of the discipline, mastery of technique and imagination inherent in the works on view. Wyeth is the first exhibition to deeply examine the common threads that run through their works, while illuminating each artist’s distinctive practice. “I want to be known as the father of the artist Jamie Wyeth,” Andrew once stated. Jamie has claimed that he learned the most about art from his father.

Andrew Wyeth painted people and places he knew well, in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and coastal Maine. Studies were always an important part of Andrew Wyeth’s creative process; he used these sketches to explore ideas for compositions on paper.

Andrew Wyeth utilized different media for different types of expression in his works. He chose watercolor to capture a subject quickly. When he wished to spend more time exploring aspects of a subject, Andrew used drybrush, a watercolor technique in which most of the moisture is squeezed from the brush. The resulting thin line enables the artist to render fine details. Egg tempera is another medium that allowed the artist to spend time with a subject. Andrew Wyeth’s mature tempera works include Antler Crown, 1983, a Pennsylvania scene that focuses on a rack of caribou antlers purchased by his wife, Betsy.

Jamie Wyeth is the third generation of Wyeth artists. Known for his accomplished portraits, Jamie spends time with his subjects, whether human or beast, and the results of this close study show in his work. Jamie Wyeth divides his time between a working farm in the Brandywine Valley and an island off the coast of Maine. Jamie Wyeth has also painted a variety of subjects related to aspects of contemporary American history.
The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its holdings reflect the city and region, and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world.

National sponsor: The Habsburgs: Rarely Seen Masterpieces from Europe’s Greatest Dynasty

Bank of America was pleased to be the national sponsor of The Habsburgs: Rarely Seen Masterpieces from Europe’s Greatest Dynasty. 

The Habsburgs offered a rare opportunity to see the exquisite masterpieces and opulent personal belongings of an influential royal family whose reign spanned nearly 600 years, and shaped the world as we know it today. The Habsburgs were one of the principal dynasties of Europe from the fifteenth to the twentieth century. The exhibition showcases important works of art and rare objects from the collection of the Habsburg Dynasty—the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and other powerful rulers who commissioned extraordinary artworks now in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. For American audiences, this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to peek inside the chambers of one of the most important imperial art collections in the world. The exhibition, largely composed of works that have never traveled outside of Austria, was organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. It was on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts from February 15 to May 10, 2015, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from June 14 to September 13, 2015 and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta from October 18, 2015 to January 17, 2016.

The Habsburgs explored the dramatic rise and fall of the royal family’s global empire, from their political ascendance in the late Middle Ages to the height of their power in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the expansion of the dynasty in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to its decline in 1918 at the end of World War I.

Some families have fought, others have intrigued their way to world power; the Habsburgs married their way up. They began with Austria and then married the Netherlands, Burgundy, the duchy of Milan, Sicily and finally Spain, including all its territories in the Americas. 

The 93 artworks and artifacts that tell the story include arms and armor, sculpture, Greek and Roman antiquities, court costumes, carriages, decorative art objects, and paintings by such masters as Correggio, Giorgione, Rubens, Tintoretto, Titian, and Velázquez. Key masterpieces that had never before traveled to the United States include The Crowning with Thorns (c. 1602/1604) by Caravaggio; A portrait of Jane Seymour (1536), Queen of England and third wife to Henry VIII, by Hans Holbein the Younger; and Jupiter and Io (c. 1530/32) by Correggio.

The Habsburgs chronicled the story in three chapters, each featuring a three-dimensional “tableau”—a display of objects from the Habsburgs’ opulent court ceremonies—as context for the other works on view. By bringing together the Habsburgs’ paintings, decorative arts, costumes, and armor, visitors had a rich, tangible, and fascinating sense of the lives and legacies of these important European rulers. The exhibition showed the extraordinarily wide range of the Habsburgs’ collections, including works of Roman antiquity, medieval armory, early modern painting and craftwork, as well as magnificent carriages and clothing.

The first section featured objects commissioned or collected by the Habsburgs from the thirteenth through the sixteenth centuries. In this late medieval/early Renaissance period, Habsburg rulers staged elaborate commemorative celebrations to demonstrate power and to establish their legitimacy to rule, a tradition that flourished during the reigns of Maximilian I and his heirs. Works from this era—including sabers and armor, tapestries, Roman cameos, and large-scale paintings—illustrate the significance of war and patronage in expanding Habsburg influence and prestige. 

The second and largest section of the exhibition highlighted the apex of Habsburg rule, the Baroque Age of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The dynasty used religion, works of art, and court festivities to propagate its self-image and claim to rule during this politically tumultuous time. Paintings by Europe’s leading artists demonstrate the wealth and taste of the Habsburg rulers, while crucifixes wrought in precious metals and gems, as well as sumptuous ecclesiastical vestments, reflect the emperor’s role as defender of the Catholic faith.

The exhibition concluded with works from the early nineteenth century, when the fall of the Holy Roman Empire gave rise to the hereditary Austrian Empire—a transition from the ancien régime to a modern state in which merit determined distinction and advancement. Franz Joseph, who would reign longer than any previous Habsburg, saw the growth of nationalism and ultimately ruled over the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. As heir to the Habsburg legacy—and in the spirit of public education and enrichment—he founded the Kunsthistorisches Museum in 1891. Reflecting the modernization of the Habsburg administration, the exhibition ends with a spectacular display of official court uniforms and dresses.

Sponsor: Giacometti: Pure Presence
Portraits in sculpture and painting by a 20th century icon

Bank of America was pleased to sponsor Giacometti: Pure Presence, on view at the National Portrait Gallery, London from October 15, 2015 to January 10, 2016.

Alberto Giacometti's (Swiss, 1901-1966) career traces the shifting emphases of European art before and after the Second World War. As a surrealist in the 1930s, he devised a new form of sculpture, sometimes reminiscent of toys and games. As an existentialist after the war, he led the way in creating a style that summed up the philosophy's interests in perception, alienation and anxiety. He is best remembered for his figurative work, tall, thin, standing or walking figures, which helped make the theme of the suffering human figure a popular symbol of post-war trauma. As a leading modernist and surrealist sculptor, he worked alongside Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Max Ernst in Paris in the 1920s. Acknowledging the experimental and imaginative nature of his work, Giacometti claimed that, starting in 1925, for ten years ‘it was necessary to abandon the real.’ The title of the exhibition derives from the existentialist writer Jean-Paul Sartre, who referred to Giacometti’s endeavor to give ‘sensible expression’ to ‘pure presence.’ 

The exhibition emphasized the portraits produced by the artist during this time as he steered a lesser-known, parallel artistic course at his family home in Switzerland. Beyond that, and covering the period 1914 to 1966, the exhibition reveals Giacometti’s life-long preoccupation with portraiture and ‘copying appearance.’ 

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the artist’s death, Giacometti: Pure Presence comprised over 60 works, including paintings, sculptures and drawings, from the entire range of his career. It was the first ever exhibition to consist solely of Giacometti’s portraits, drawn from museums and private collections worldwide including Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Tate, Collection Fondation Giacometti, Paris, Alberto Giacometti Foundation, Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich, Alberto Giacometti-Stiftung Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. 

Since his death in 1966, Alberto Giacometti has become recognized internationally as one of the most important and distinctive artists of the twentieth century. Belonging to no particular school or tendency, during the late 1920s and early 1930s his work developed through post-cubist and surrealist phases. He later attained a mature, individual expression whose preoccupation with the depiction of a human presence in an enveloping space is often seen in relation to existentialist concerns with defining the place and purpose of man in a godless universe. Spanning painting, sculpture, drawing and printmaking, Giacometti’s work ranges from surrealist objects to intensely observed images of the human figure. At the center of this activity, Giacometti’s portraits of particular individuals have a resonance that the exhibition explores in detail. 

Precociously gifted, Giacometti’s earliest drawings, paintings and sculptures portray members of his family and his own image as subjects. These early works demonstrate Giacometti’s awareness of post-impressionist and divisionist styles (Divisionism requires the viewer to combine the colors optically instead of the artist physically mixing paints). After moving to Paris in 1922, until the late 1930s sculpture was a principal preoccupation. During this period, self-portraits and also portraits of his mother and father, his sister Ottilia, and artist friends such as Isabel Nichol were main subjects, demonstrating a progressive abstraction. From 1946 Giacometti resumed painting, and images that depict an individual human presence became central to his work. After 1954, when he began making sculpture from life, increasingly his portraits evolved as the outcome of an ongoing dialogue between painting and sculpture, characterized by a progressive engagement with a limited number of sitters. 

Giacometti subjected the human image to a radical process of interrogation and transformation in which the exploration and representation of flesh, presence, distance and space are vital, interacting elements. The individuals he depicted include his mother; Diego his brother; his wife Annette; Jean Genet the playwright; Caroline, a prostitute; and, finally, Yanaihara and Lotar, both of whom were friends of the artist. In these compelling images, a human presence seems poised between being and non-being, providing the basis for Giacometti’s reputation as one of the most innovative artists of the last century. 

Giacometti: Pure Presence focused on the intensity of his relationships with frequent sitters such as members of his close family; Isabel Nichol (who later became Francis Bacon’s muse Isabel Rawsthorne); and Caroline, whom he met in 1960 and who sat for his portraits over the following five years. 

Tracing Giacometti’s engagement with representing the figure, Giacometti: Pure Presence displays portraits of all his main models, including his wife Annette and his brother Diego, as well as such friends as the writers Louis Aragon and Jean Genet, the retailer and philanthropist Lord Sainsbury and the art writer James Lord. The exhibition also features a room of photographs documenting the artist’s life. 

Highlights included his earliest portrait bust of his brother Diego created in 1914 when he was just 13 and his last bronze busts from 1965. These were displayed alongside a wide range of paintings and drawings that show Giacometti’s development from post-impressionist influences via cubism to expressionist portraits of figures in highly charged spaces. 

Major sculptures on view ranged from a serene head of Isabel inspired by classical Egyptian portraiture to portraits of Diego and Annette: eroding, dissolving heads and figures that became Giacometti’s trademarks. Such sculptures are frequently pared down to very small forms as though the viewer is observing the sitter from a long distance. 

One of the artist’s most celebrated tall figures, Woman of Venice VIII, stood at the center of the exhibition, making a vital contact between Giacometti’s portraits and his famous sculptures evoking an anonymous human presence.

Sponsor and donor:  
50 for 50 celebrates a half century of art at LACMA 

Since its inception in 1965, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been devoted to collecting works that span both history and geography, in addition to representing the city’s uniquely diverse population.

Bank of America was pleased to sponsor 50 for 50: Gifts on the Occasion of LACMA’s 50th Anniversary. The works featured in 50 for 50 include a collection of masterpieces from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Edouard Vuillard, Claude Monet, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Damien Hirst, and Frank Stella as well as art from Africa and works of decorative and applied art.

To recognize this milestone, Bank of America is honored to donate a sculpture from its collection, Red Concave Circle, 1970 by Light and Space artist DeWain Valentine. Best described as minimalist, Light and Space art works were groundbreaking for their use of slick surfaces, often incorporating light which enhanced a luminescent effect through the use of non-traditional materials such as resin or vacuum-formed plastic. Red Concave Circle, 1970 is on view in the museum’s lobby.

In addition to the artworks in 50 for 50, a number of large-scale works and installations acquired in honor of the 50th anniversary are on view throughout the museum campus. These works include Robert Irwin’s Miracle Mile, 2013, a linear configuration composed of 66 fluorescent tubes stretching approximately 36 feet, seventeenth-century Flemish painter Frans Snyders’ still-life The Game Market, c. 1630s, and Kiki Smith’s Jersey Crows, 1995, which is comprised of over a dozen dead crows cast in bronze strewn across the floor as an homage to pesticide poisoning in her home state.

In just 50 years, LACMA has become the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection that includes over 120,000 objects dating from antiquity to the present. LACMA has its roots in the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art, established in 1910 in Exposition Park. In 1961, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was created as a separate, art-focused institution. In 1965, the fledgling institution opened to the public in its new Wilshire Boulevard location, with the Ahmanson permanent collections building, the Hammer special exhibitions building, and the 600-seat Bing Theater for public programs.

Over several decades, the campus and the collection have grown considerably. The Anderson Building (renamed the Art of the Americas building in 2007) opened in 1986 to house modern and contemporary art. In 1988, Bruce Goff's innovative Pavilion for Japanese Art opened at the east end of campus. In 1994, the museum acquired the May Company department store building at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, now known as LACMA West. 

Most recently, LACMA revitalized the western half of the campus with a collection of buildings designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. These include the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, and a three-story 60,000-square-foot space for the exhibition of postwar art that opened in 2008. In the fall of 2010, the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion opened to the public, providing the largest purpose-built, naturally lit, open-plan museum space in the world, with a rotating selection of major exhibitions, including 50 for 50: Gifts on the Occasion of LACMA’s 50th Anniversary.

LACMA attracts over a million visitors annually, in addition to serving millions more through digital initiatives, such as online collections, scholarly catalogues, and interactive engagement at LACMA is located on over 20 acres in the heart of Los Angeles.

If you have questions, click here.