Philanthropist Barbara Lee Donates $42 Million in Art by Female Artists to ICA Boston

It's the largest gift ever made to the museum.

Barbara Lee. Photo: Thomas Hartshelby.
Barbara Lee. Photo: Thomas Hartshelby.

Philanthropist and collector Barbara Lee donated an estimated $42 million worth of artwork to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston yesterday.

The gift, of 20 works by 12 female artists, will be added to the museum’s Barbara Lee Collection of Art by Women, established last year through an initial donation of 43 works.

By value, Lee’s latest donation is the largest gift ever made to the museum in its history, officials told the New York Times. Louise Bourgeois, Carol Bove, Eva Hesse, and Sherrie Levine are among the major artists whose sculptures, paintings, and video artworks are included in the gift. One highlight includes Kara Walker’s monumental, and controversial, room-size installation The Nigger Huck Finn Pursues Happiness Beyond the Narrow Constraints of your Overdetermined Thesis on Freedom–Drawn and Quartered by Mister Kara Walkerberry, with Condolences to the Authors (2010).

Kara Walker, <em>The Nigger Huck Finn Pursues Happiness Beyond the Narrow Constraints of your Overdetermined Thesis on Freedom–Drawn and Quartered by Mister Kara Walkerberry, with Condolences to the Authors </em>(2010). Photo: courtesy the ICA, Boston.

Kara Walker, The Nigger Huck Finn Pursues Happiness Beyond the Narrow Constraints of your Overdetermined Thesis on Freedom–Drawn and Quartered by Mister Kara Walkerberry, with Condolences to the Authors (2010).
Photo: courtesy the ICA, Boston.

Jill Medvedow, the institute’s director, praised Lee in a statement, saying “her vision and generosity allow the ICA to tell urgent and undertold histories of postwar and contemporary art.”

Lee, who has been collecting art for three decades, hopes that the donation helps “put women front and center” at the institution, she said in a statement. “The museum has a spirit of independence, defies expectations, and challenges the status quo—all things that embody my life’s work to empower women.”

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Photo: courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro Architects.

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.
Photo: courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro Architects.

In addition to her duties as the vice chair of the ICA’s board of trustees, Lee is also devoted to helping elect women to government posts.


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
  • Access the data behind the headlines with the artnet Price Database.

Share

Article topics