Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother. Photo: the National Gallery of Art

LA Collectors Donate More Than 500 Photographs to the Getty Museum and National Gallery in Washington, DC

The J. Paul Getty Museum and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, have received major gifts of photographs from the collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser. The contribution to the Getty includes 386 works of art by seventeen photographers and 23 additional photographs as promised gifts. The National Gallery received 143 gelatin silver prints by Dorothea Lange, with 10 additional Lange photographs promised to the institution. These gifts are part of a broader initiative by Greenberg and Steinhauser that involves donations to a total of thirteen art institutions.

For more than twenty years, Greenberg and Steinhauser have been collecting photographs largely by twentieth-century American artists as well as Latin American and Japanese photographers, and they believe in sharing their collection with the public. “While collecting is a mysterious endeavor, and living with the art is profound, the act of gifting is a joyous and wonderful moment in time,” Greenberg said. “As Susan and I begin a new chapter in our lives, and after decades of acting as temporary stewards for these photographs, we are excited that now is the time that we can share some of the best works we have owned with the public.”

Steinhauser said, “These gifts, which are the largest we have made to date, are part of a larger personal commitment through which we are supporting many leading art museums around the country with gifts primarily from our photography collection. Each photo reminds us of the circumstances under which we searched for, found, experienced, and shared it with others. These photographs helped shape our lives and led to many long-lasting friendships. It is our hope that the public will embrace them as enthusiastically as we have.”

The donation marks the first time the collectors have donated to the National Gallery of Art. The Lange photographs span her entire career, from the 1920s to the 1960s. Among those gifted are some of her most iconic works, including Migrant Mother, 1936; Death in the Doorway, 1938; and Migratory Cotton Picker, 1940.

Highlights of the Getty acquisition include the first works by Ruth Bernhard and Eudora Welty to enter the museum’s collection. The donation of twenty-seven works by Imogen Cunningham complements the sixty-six prints already in the Getty’s collection and sets the stage for a possible monographic exhibition of her work. Also, the donation of Chris Killip’s 1980 “Isle of Man” portfolio of twelve prints comes as the Getty prepares for a major exhibition of the artist’s work, opening May 23.

Greenberg and Steinhauser are founding members of the Getty Museum Photographs Council, of which Greenberg is the current chairman and Steinhauser is a past chair. Since 2000, they have donated more than five hundred photographs to the Getty, including significant groups of works by Manuel Álvaraz Bravo, Graciela Iturbide, Abelardo Morell, Eliot Porter, and Minor White, all of which inspired exhibitions organized there in recent years.