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Zhijie Qiu, Tattoo II, 1994, collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of the Adelaar Family. Courtesy of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Vancouver Art Gallery Receives Major Gifts of Art

The Vancouver Art Gallery in British Columbia announced that it has been gifted significant works of Indigenous, Asian, and Conceptual art. In December, collectors Claudia Beck and Andrew Gruft donated thirty-six artworks by twenty-six artists, including nineteenth-century practitioners Henri Béchard, Samuel Bourne, James McDonald, and Auguste Salzmann and influential artists such as Eugène Atget, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Lee Friedlander, and Alfred Steiglitz.

The owners of what is considered one of the most important private photography collections in Canada, the couple assembled the works over the course of several decades. To date, Beck and Gruft have given 552 artworks to the museum. “The gallery is so fortunate to possess an internationally-recognized collection of photography that has been impacted by the incredible generosity of discerning collectors such as Claudia Beck and Andrew Gruft,” said Daina Augaitis, the museum’s interim director.

In addition, the museum received five silver and gold pieces by artist Charles Edenshaw (Da.a.xiigang), a former Haida chief and prominent carver who worked during the late nineteenth century, from Donald Ellis; fifteen artworks by six international Asian artists including Qiu Zhijie, Zhou Tiehai, and Koki Tanaka, each of whom participated in exhibitions in Vancouver in the late 1990s and early 2000s, from the family of Jack and Maryon Adelaar; and multiple works by contemporary artists Gareth Moore and Johannes Wohnseifer from long-standing donors Ann and Marshall Webb.

From July 2018 to June 2019, the gallery acquired 196 works through purchases and donations, bringing the total number of works in the collection to 12,167. The museum is planning to build a new Herzog & de Meuron–designed home for its holdings, but the sluggish pace of the project, which has been in the works for more than a decade, has raised doubts over whether the building will ever be realized. In January 2019, the Chan family, textile giants who are longtime supporters of the museum, gifted $30 million for the 300,000-square-foot facility.