Amazing, transformative gifts don’t come along often, but the Seattle Art Museum just landed one, and that means the entire city, region and state are the beneficiaries.
The gift comes from the collection of the late Jane Lang Davis and Richard E. Lang. The Medina residents were avid collectors. The foundation tasked with carrying on their philanthropic work after their deaths has decided to keep 19 of their most important pieces close to home.
Always a solid art museum, SAM overnight will become one of the premiere showcases of 20th-century abstract expressionist and European masterpieces by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. It also includes works by three women artists who were overlooked in their time but have grown in stature: Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler.
One estimate places the value of the entire collection at about $400 million. The gift includes additional millions for conservation and to support the museum during the pandemic-induced recession.
Abstract expressionism may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Often pieces take a little work to appreciate. Compositions of color, light and dark tug at the corner of conscious understanding. Yet, it is a deep and important period of art history.
These works will become a precious addition to Seattle’s vibrant cultural landscape thanks to the Langs’ generosity. The Langs treasured these works in their home, but what a gift that they will now have a home in a public museum for all to experience and enjoy. SAM plans to put the new collection on public display in October.