Acquired through the Souls Grown Deep Collection Transfer program, with additional support from the museum's Patrons' Permanent Fund, the works by twenty-one artists include nine quilts by the artists of Gee's Bend, Alabama, including Mary Lee Bendolph and Irene Williams; three paintings, three drawings, and a sculpture by Thornton Dial; works on paper by Nellie Mae Rowe, Henry Speller, Georgia Speller, and Royal Robertson; three sculptures by Lonnie Holley; and four sculpted heads by James "Son Ford" Thomas that were featured in the National Gallery's Outliers and American Vanguard Art exhibition in 2018.
"These exciting works by artists from the American South demonstrate remarkable qualities of imaginative and conceptual daring and material inventiveness across a wide range of media and styles," said National Gallery of Art director Kaywin Feldman, who previously negotiated an acquisition from Souls Grown Deep as director and president of the Minneapolis Institute of Art. "In addition, many of these works offer powerful insights and perspectives on the compelling issues of our time, and we are pleased to be able to add them to our collection of modern and contemporary art."
"The addition of notable works by artists from our collection to the National Gallery of Art and other leading institutions signifies their essential inclusion in the canon of art history," said Souls Grown Deep Foundation president Maxwell L. Anderson. "Subsequent exhibitions, educational programs, and scholarship will expose new audiences to their artistic mastery and contemporary relevance."