San Francisco

“New Accessions 1962–1963”

San Francisco Mu­seum of Art

The San Francisco Museum is to be congratulated on its recent ag­gressiveness in the area of purchases for its permanent collection. A more indirect interest in the growth of the collection is shown by the formation of an organization bearing the august title, “The Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art.” Periodically, a selected group of works by favored artists is accumulated from art dealers and private collectors throughout the United States and then displayed in the mu­seum under the auspices of the Society. At this point, the rank and file of the society are “encouraged” to purchase individual works and, hopefully, ulti­mately donate the piece to the museum. The idea is sound because the members of the society, when confronted with a roomful of such bijoux feel compelled to select at least one to keep within their immediate visual sphere. The mag­nificent “Concretion Sans Coupe” by Hans Arp was acquired in such a manner, as was Vuillard’s unusually free study of the artist, Forain, in his studio.

The society donations are not the only way in which new works are ob­tained for the museum collection. The more conventional method, gifts by pri­vate donors, still accounts for the larg­est percentage of the recently acquired pieces. This method has the built-in drawback of placing the museum in a position of finding it difficult to refuse a work. For example, the museum is pre­sented the gift of a painting by Sonya Gechtoff. The painting is a poor exam­ple of the artist’s oeuvre; however, Miss Gechtoff is not represented in the mu­seum’s collection. Hence, the museum feels compelled to accept the gift. Also, offense to a potentially generous donor by refusing to accept, from his other­wise magnificent collection, a past in­discretion of decidedly second rate quality, must be considered.

Two additions to the museum’s col­lection, including one work apiece of Ad Reinhardt and John Coplans, don’t begin to fill the void between Mondrian and Barnett Newman although both paintings are of high individual quality. The purchase of Henry Mundy’s “Blue and White Discs” out of the “British Art Today” exhibit was an astute choice as it is the finest painting the artist had in that show and certainly one of the most outstanding abstractions the museum has acquired in recent years.

James Monte