Emily Pulitzer donates treasure trove of art to the St. Louis Art Museum
The St. Louis Art Museum announced Monday that philanthropist Emily Rauh Pulitzer will donate 22 major works of art to the institution.
The museum’s leaders described the planned donation as one of the most significant in the organization’s history.
Pulitzer is donating works by 17 artists, including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Philip Guston and Andy Warhol. The pieces will transfer to SLAM upon Pulitzer’s death, if not sooner. Museum representatives said they were not yet sure if they will have the opportunity to display any of the included works before then.
“This gift is one of the most significant in our 142-year history,” said museum director Min Jung Kim. The works “will have a transformative impact on the art museum’s collection,” she said.
The donation will include the museum’s first piece by the sculptor Constantin Brâncuși— “Mademoiselle Pogany III,” which Kim described as iconic. Also included will be Picasso’s “Woman in a Red Hat,” Miró’s “Painting” and “48,” Guston’s “Dark Room,” Georges Braque’s “The Mantelpiece,” a 1967 self-portrait by Warhol and French sculptor Emilie-Antoine Bourdelle’s “Mask of Beethoven.”
Most of the artists are men, though the donation includes two pieces by the American multimedia artist Rachel Harrison. “Photograph,” her pigmented inkjet print from 2020, is the most recent piece included.
A museum spokesperson said that the organization couldn’t estimate what the total monetary value of the gift will be until the museum has the works in hand, due to the volatility of the art market and other factors.
Pulitzer, one of the region’s most prolific arts philanthropists, worked at St. Louis Art Museum as a curator for nine years beginning in 1964. She also worked as assistant curator of drawings at Harvard University’s Fogg Museum. It was in St. Louis that she met her husband-to-be, Joseph Pulitzer Jr., the longtime publisher and editor-in-chief of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He died in 1993.
Pulitzer, 88, said her late husband began collecting 20th-century art in 1936, and the two continued building the collection throughout their 20-year marriage.
“I feel that collectors are guardians of the art and that they should pass it on,” Pulitzer said. ”I’ve been involved with St. Louis Art Museum ever since I was brought here to be the curator of that museum. I feel that they can be great stewards of this art, which I not only love but think can be very enjoyable and enlightening for people in generations to come.”
The Pulitzers have been longtime museum benefactors. Notable past gifts include a 2009 donation of $45 million and 31 artworks to Harvard Art Museum. Emily Rauh Pulitzer has made major gifts to capital campaigns of SLAM and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, and to Bryn Mawr’s history of art department. The Pulitzer family also founded the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, which opened to the public in Grand Center after more than a decade of planning.
The Pulitzers have previously given 144 artworks to St. Louis Art Museum. Some of the pieces in the latest donation will reinforce strong points in St. Louis Art Museum’s collection, and others will “reframe” its holdings, Kim said.
“The number of pieces and the caliber of works are such that we’ll not only be able to help augment the extraordinary collection of the St. Louis Art Museum, but also to see the works of a number of other artists in greater depth,” Kim said.
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