The Addison’s permanent collection has grown exponentially since the museum opened its doors in 1931. The founding collection, comprised of some 400 works including masterpieces by Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, and James McNeill Whistler, reflects the art world of the time and the taste and aesthetic sensibility of the collectors who helped shape it. Since then, the Addison has acquired works for the collection that build on its strengths and address its gaps and omissions. The 25,000 objects now in the collection convey an expansive and nuanced picture of the American experience from the 18th century to the present. Free Association: New Acquisitions in Context demonstrates how recently acquired works complement the Addison’s extant holdings and help us to see the collection in novel ways, drawing out new narratives, juxtapositions, and conversations across time and media.
The exhibition occupies the entirety of the Addison’s second level. Each gallery is organized around one or more recent acquisitions, shown in conversation with works that entered the Addison’s collection at earlier moments in its nearly 100-year history. These dialogues center on particular strengths of the Addison’s renowned holdings—images of the American West, street photography, queer modernism, Bauhaus artists in America, and Minimalist art—or on themes that surface across periods and stylistic movements, like the body and nature, classical mythology, domestic interiors, and the depiction of light. Taken together, this constellation of installations offers new ways of looking at a collection that is endlessly generative and constantly reinterpreted.
Generous support for this exhibition has been provided by the Elizabeth and Anthony Enders Exhibitions Fund, and the Mollie Bennett Lupe and Garland M. Lasater Exhibition Fund.