The Art Institute of Chicago has announced a gift of art, the largest in its history, from local philanthropists Stefan T. Edlis and Gael Neeson.
Worth a reported $400 million, the forty-two works donated by Edlis and Neeson include nine paintings by Andy Warhol as well as paintings, sculpture, and photographs by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter, and Cy Twombly. "At every turn this [gift] fills a gap with an iconic masterpiece, but the essence of the story is pop art," James Rondeau, the museum's curator of contemporary art, told the Chicago Tribune. "Chicago in general and the Art Institute in particular have been historically poor in collections of classic pop art, and this in one single gift changes that forever."
Starting in January, the Edlis/Neeson Collection will be on permanent display for the next half-century in the second-floor galleries of the institute's Modern Wing. Edlis, who serves on the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and also has supported the New Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, said he wanted to ensure that the donated works of art did not end up in storage.
"I have donated works of art to museums for years but have been frustrated by their lack of exposure," said Edlis, who emigrated with his family from Austria in 1941 at the age of 15 and made his fortune in plastics manufacturing. "The fact that the Art Institute proposed keeping the works on permanent view for fifty years in the Modern Wing was a totally convincing argument for gifting the collection to the museum. Gael and I are delighted that these works of art will be in the Art Institute’s long-term plans."