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story.lead_photo.caption Photo courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum, by Edward C. Robison III Kehinde Wiley is the first black artist to paint an official portrait of a president for the National Portrait Gallery with his 2018 portrait of former President Barack Obama. His "Portrait of a Florentine Nobleman" is from a series depicting Missouri residents from Ferguson and St. Louis.

"One of the things that was really important for us this year was our continued growth in our collection, and acquiring objects that are more representative of America," reflects Rod Bigelow, executive director & chief diversity and inclusion officer for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

In focusing on creating a more inclusive view of the American experience, Bigelow reveals curators were very intentional about acquiring works by women artists and artists of color. Two of the new works that have incited significant enthusiasm from viewers are Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrored Room" and Kehinde Wiley's "Portrait of Florentine Nobleman," both on display in the Contemporary Art Gallery.

These and other acquisitions for the Contemporary Gallery instigated the opportunity to re-imagine a portion of the space. Prior to the redesign, the gallery's flow was more chronological. Now, the experience in the immersive Infinity Room -- abstraction, repetition -- informs what guests will see in the rest of the gallery space. The section following Kusama's piece is full of newly acquired works by artists concentrating on figuration influenced by abstraction, assistant curator Alejo Benedetti revealed to What's Up! earlier this year.

Among these contemporary artists of color and female artists pushing boundaries of representation are:

• Jordan Casteel, "Ourlando"; Loie Hollowell, "Mother's Milk" (featured in 2018 exhibition "The Beyond: Georgia O'Keeffe and Contemporary Art"); Nathaniel Mary Quinn, "Dave Forsythe"; Emma Amos, "The Reader" (featured in 2018's "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power").

• Crystal Bridges also acquired 23 works by Los Angeles-based collector Gordon Bailey this year.

• Added to the Early American Art Gallery, pioneering African American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner's "The Good Shepherd" is another important 2019 addition.

Photo courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai and Victoria Miro, London/Venice. Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrored Room -- My Heart is Dancing into the Universe" uses mirrors, light and repetitive patterns to create a kaleidoscopic environment.

NAN What's Up on 12/29/2019

Print Headline: An Aim For Acquisitions

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