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Painting by Michelle Obama portraitist Amy Sherald among 23 BMA acquires after deaccession sale

Seven pieces of art have been added to the collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art, purchased with nearly $8 million raised through the sale of items previously held in the BMA’s collection.

The pieces are among 23 artworks just added to the collection, the majority by black and female artists, as well as artists from Asia and Mexico.

The new works should help the museum broaden the scope of its collection and include a wider diversity of artists, BMA Director Christopher Bedford said in a statement.

“By moving toward equitable representation and historical accuracy in our collection,” he said, “we aspire to become a better reflection of our Baltimore community and lead fruitful dialogue on future museum practices amongst our peers.

“This group of acquisitions,” he added, “is just the beginning.”

The 23 works of art include paintings, sculpture, films, textiles and photographs.

Seven of the acquisitions were purchased at least in part using money from the sale of five works removed from the museum’s collection and auctioned off by Sotheby’s in New York last month. Among those seven pieces are:

-“Baltimore,” a three-screen video installation shot here in 2004 by British filmmaker Isaac Julien. Vanessa Myrie and Melvin Van Peebles, the man responsible for the pioneering blaxploitation film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song,” star as a cyborg-like young woman and an old man exploring the interiors of Baltimore’s Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Walters Art Museum and George Peabody Library.

-“Planes, rockets, and the spaces in between,” the first painting Baltimore-based Amy Sherald made after she did her official portrait of former first lady Michelle Obama. That portrait was unveiled in February at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

-“9.11.01,” from artist Jack Whitten (the subject of a major retrospective on view at the museum through July 29), is a meditation on and response to the events of 9/11, which Whitten viewed from his studio. The work incorporates ash and molten materials from the World Trade Center site, as well as other materials. That piece is already on exhibit, in the BMA’s Contemporary Wing.

The five pieces sold at auction last month were Franz Kline’s “Green Cross,” Andy Warhol’s “Oxidation Painting” from 1978, Kenneth Noland’s “Lapis Lazuli” and “In-Vital,” and Jules Olitski’s “Before Darkness II.”

Other pieces among the 23 newly acquired works include paintings by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Odili Donald Odita and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye; sculpture by Wangechi Mutu; prints by Enrique Chagoya, Bruce Connor, Yun-Fei Ji, and Adam Pendleton; films by Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley; textiles by Stephen Towns; and photographs by Harry Callahan, Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley, Kenji Nakahashi, Wang Qingsong, Chuck Ramirez, Toshio Sasaki, Noh Suntag, and Yoshihiro Tatsuki.

The two pieces from Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley, “In The Body Of The Sturgeon” and “Gaudy Night,” are already on display at the BMA, as part of the “Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley: We Are Ghosts” exhibition, running through Aug. 19. Plans for when the other pieces will go on display are still being formulated, museum spokeswoman Anne Mannix Brown said.

In addition to the money raised at auction, the acquisitions were paid for through gifts and other funds, and many are the first by the artist to enter the BMA’s collection.

ckaltenbach@baltsun.com

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