In recent years major acquisitions have helped build a significant collection of contemporary art. Outstanding works in the contemporary collection include Frank Stella’s monumental geometric painting Raqqa II (1970), Anselm Kiefer’s Untitled (1980–86) triptych, Gerhard Richter’s abstract painting Station (577-2) (1985), Elizabeth Murray’s three-dimensional painting Pigeon (1991), Guillermo Kuitca’s evocative painting People on Fire (1993), Ralph Helmick and Stuart Schechter’s kinetic suspended sculpture Rabble (2003), and Jaume Plensa’s illuminated sculpture Doors of Jerusalem I, II, & III (2006).
As we move into the 21st century, contemporary art has become a truly global, cross-cultural dialogue, and artists are employing a wide variety of media to express their ideas. With recent acquisitions a concerted effort has been made to acquire works in new and experimental media, such as Bill Viola’s video The Quintet of Remembrance (2000) and Michal Rovner’s video installation Tfila (2004). Cultural and regional representation has also been expanded, with the Museum actively acquiring works by artists of diverse backgrounds, including José Bedia, iona rozeal brown, Lalla Essaydi, Maria Elena González, Seydou Keïta, Mustafa Maluka, Beverly McIver, Mario Cravo Neto, and Alison Saar. In 2003 the Museum started actively collecting contemporary photography, with a collection now well over 200 photographs by nationally and internationally known photographers, including works by Rosemary Laing, Dinh Q. Lê, Vera Lutter, and Lorna Simpson.
The collection includes a comprehensive survey of North Carolina artists. Highlights of the North Carolina collection include George Bireline’s abstract painting Matisse Window (1964), Maud Gatewood’s expressively painted landscape Jungle Camp (2000), Bob Trotman’s figurative sculpture Girl (2002), and Beverly McIver’s triptych self-portrait Reminiscing (2005). Recent acquisitions have concentrated on contemporary photography, and to date the Museum has acquired 141 photographs by 16 North Carolina photographers.
The Museum’s contemporary art program extends into the landscape surrounding the Museum, where artists are invited to create both temporary and permanent site-specific works of art in the Museum Park. Currently on view in the Park are permanent works by Thomas Sayre, Vollis Simpson, Chris Drury, and Martha Jackson-Jarvis. The Museum’s other permanent outdoor sculptures—Ronald Bladen’s Three Elements and Henry Moore’s Large Spindle Piece and Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge—are installed in the gardens surrounding the gallery building. Picture This, the Museum’s amphitheater, is a monumental work of art designed by artist Barbara Kruger in collaboration with architects and landscape architects.
West Building houses a significant portion of the modern and contemporary collection, featuring several gifts and new commissions, including works by El Anatsui, Roxy Paine, and Jaume Plensa, as well as highlights from a gift to the Museum, the Jim and Mary Patton Collection. In addition to special exhibition galleries, the Museum’s East Building houses galleries dedicated to video and new media art, photography, artists’ projects, and North Carolina artists.