Palm Springs Art Museum
Palm Desert
Edwards Harris Center


11/02/13 - 02/02/14
Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert

Helene Galen, whose generous donation was the principal gift for the establishment of the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert and for whom the building is named, is not only one of the Coachella Valley’s most distinguished philanthropists but also a serious collector of both modern and contemporary art. Her homes in Rancho Mirage and Los Angeles are filled with significant artworks in all media. Some of the most important of these will be featured this spring at the Palm Springs Art Museum exhibition of new gifts in celebration of the museum’s 75th anniversary. The current exhibition offers an opportunity to preview them in the context of Galen’s larger collection.

That collection includes paintings and sculptures by early giants of Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism, including Lee Krasner, Adolph Gottlieb, Lynn Chadwick, and Max Ernst. Classic modern artists of the post-WWII period are represented in works by Henri Matisse, Milton Avery, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Al Held, and Karel Appel.

The sensibility of Pop Art resonates throughout the collection. Anchored by one of Tom Wesselmann’s signature bedroom nudes, it extends to works by other artists who defined the genre as well as those who have been inspired by it, such as Mel Ramos, Keith Haring, Alex Katz, Roy De Forest, and Maberry + Walker. Contemporary artists exploring the intersection of identity and visual imagery include Richard Cleaver, Joan Brown, David Salle, and Sandow Birk, whose painting of the “battle” between Northern and Southern California reworks the conventions of history painting.

Adventurous art by those working at the edge of contemporary practice include the fanciful sound suit by Nick Cave, the medicine capsule collage by Desire Obtain Cherish, the perceptual light box of Chul-Hyun Ahn, the optically-reflective acrylic relief of H. C. Berg, and the video experimentations of Brian Bress.

Photography crosses all of these categories from classic modernism to fashion to conceptual experiments. Galen’s extensive collection is represented by a selection that comprises some of the most significant prints by artists that include Paul Strand, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, Ruth Bernhardt, Lucien Clergue, Richard Avedon, Francesco Scavullo, Alex Guofeng Cao, and Andrea Galvani.

Finally, Helene Galen’s intrepid collecting spirit is evident in her “self-portrait” by conceptual artists Eric and Heather ChanSchatz, an abstract composition based on a book she created in collaboration with the artists. The works in this exhibition reflect Galen’s keen appreciation of historical movements in modern and contemporary art refracted through her own vivacious personality.

This exhibition is organized by the Palm Springs Art Museum and funded in part by Faye and Herman Sarkowsky.

Exhibition season sponsors: Joan Dale and R.D. Hubbard, Dorothy and Harold J. Meyerman, Annette and Ted Lerner, JoAnn McGrath, and Deborah and Kenneth Novack.