CLEVELAND (November 11, 2009) – The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) today announced the acquisition of Jackie Curtis and Ritta Red (oil on canvas, 1970) by Alice Neel (American, 1900-1984). Purchased from the collection of Mary Schiller Myers and Louis S. Myers at Sotheby’s in New York on November 11, Jackie Curtis and Ritta Red is widely recognized as a superb example of Neel’s work during the most fertile years of her career as well as one of her most moving pieces. CMA temporarily borrowed Jackie Curtis and Ritta Red from the Myers for the inaugural opening of the East Wing this past summer in order to more fully represent the work of Neel and women artists of the 20th century among the museum’s contemporary collection.
“I am sure many will be eager to see Jackie Curtis and Ritta Red return to the newly opened East Wing galleries,” said Deborah Gribbon, interim director of CMA. “This purchase underscores the CMA’s focus on the continued development of our collection, always considered as one of the finest in this country, and specifically our dedication to acquiring the art of our time.”
Neel was a pioneering woman artist and one of the great portrait painters of the 20th century. Neel’s work conveys a distinguished personal vision, which she forged in the crucible of the social experiences and cultural avant-garde of New York City. Throughout the years during which Modernism and art-for-art’s sake dominated debates about art, she championed an approach to painting that was rooted in human relationships. Neel’s work was fueled by her desire to draw attention to the lives of those whose contribution to society she viewed as unrecognized. Neel’s work has had a pervasive influence on artists of successive generations, including Chuck Close and Keith Mayerson.
This painting offers a significant parallel to the museum’s painting Marilyn x 100 by Andy Warhol, resonates strongly with earlier figurative works and portraiture represented in the collection, and further strengthens the museum’s representation of work by women artists.
About the Cleveland Museum of Art
Founded in 1913, the Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the world’s most distinguished comprehensive art museums. Renowned for the scope and quality of its collection, which numbers nearly 45,000 objects and represents 6,000 years of achievement in the arts, the CMA annually acquires more than 300 works of art for its permanent collection. Through innovative programs and events centered on its collection, the museum brings the pleasure and meaning of art to the broadest possible audience. Currently undergoing a multi-phase renovation and expansion project, the CMA is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship, performing arts, and art education. General admission to the museum is free for all visitors.
The Cleveland Museum of Art has a membership of nearly 25,000 households and is supported by a broad range of individuals, foundations, and businesses in Cleveland and northeastern Ohio. The museum is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. Additional support comes from the Ohio Arts Council, which helps fund the museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. For more information on the museum, its holdings, programs, and events, call 1-888-CMA-0033 or visit www.clevelandart.org.