The Bruce Museum announced a major promised gift of two outstanding works on paper by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse from Greenwich resident and longtime Bruce Museum supporter William L. Richter. Picasso’s Bouquet des Fleurs (1909-10) and Matisse’s Autoportrait (1944) will be exhibited for the first time in the William L. Richter Art Wing when the newly expanded Bruce Museum opens in spring 2023.
Both works bracket the high period of European Modernism and underscore the direction for the New Bruce set by the Bruce Museum’s Susan E. Lynch Executive Director and CEO Robert Wolterstorff: to focus on the trajectory of Modernism, from the Impressionists in France and the United States to the global phenomenon of contemporary art in our own time.
“Words can’t express how thrilled I am to have these two powerful works enter the Bruce collection,” said Mr. Wolterstorff. “Together they send a strong signal of the direction of the New Bruce as a museum that explores global stories of Modern and Contemporary art. I’m profoundly grateful to William Richter for all of his support for the New Bruce, and especially now for this extraordinary gift of art.”
“It is my honor to donate these works to the Bruce Museum in honor of Robert Wolterstorff and his vision for the New Bruce,” said Mr. Richter. “Picasso and Matisse are foundational figures of Modernism, and I specifically chose these works as an affirmation of the continued growth of the collection and my faith in his vision for the future.”
The Picasso painting on paper, Bouquet des Fleurs (Bouquet of Flowers), dates to 1909-10, an early period in the artist’s career when he was pioneering a Cubist style. “This gouache reflects the nascent aesthetics of Cubism, including the complex fracturing of form and space that would become the hallmarks of his career,” said Bruce Museum Curator of Art Margarita Karasoulas. “It is a transformative addition to our holdings of Modernism, especially our works on paper.”
The Matisse Autoportrait (Self-Portrait), a line drawing in black ink on paper, dates to 1944, near the end of the artist’s career. It is the first work by Matisse to enter the Bruce’s collection. “Matisse produced only a small number of painted and drawn self-portraits throughout his prolific career,” noted Ms. Karasoulas. “Completed toward the end of his life, this drawing reveals a remarkable economy and elegance of line. With only a few elemental strokes of the pen, Matisse masterfully expresses his identity as an artist.”
Mr. Richter, who has also generously made a lead $15 million gift towards the new Art Wing that will bear his name, will be honored at this year’s Bruce Museum Gala, “Framing the Future,” on May 14. For over 30 years, the Bruce Museum Gala has been a highly anticipated spring event that benefits the Museum’s programs and operations, with this year’s theme inspired by the vision of the New Bruce.
The announcement of Mr. Richter’s gift follows the recent news of a promised gift from a private collector of 70 works of American and European painting, sculpture, and works on paper.