From Color Field to Minimal Art, the masterpieces of the Schulhof collection
From the Color Field movement to Pop Art, from Minimal Art to post-World War II European painting and drawing, taking in cubism, abstract art, surrealism, and American abstract expressionism, and encompassing art from the 1970s and 1980s: these are the 83 new works acquired by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection thanks to the bequest of Hannelore B. Schulhof, who passed away on 23 February of this year, and her husband Rudolph B. Schulhof (1912-1999). The collection, donated by its owner to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York, will be on permanent exhibition at Palazzo Venier dei Leoni as the “Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof Collection”: on Friday, 12 October, from 5 to 8 PM, the vast majority of the collection will be on display during an extraordinary free opening, while the collection in its entirety will be visible in late May 2013, concurrently with the 55th International Art Exhibition.
Hannelore Schulhof grew up in pre-war Germany, and left the country soon before the start of World War II, quickly followed by her fiancé Rudolph Schulhof, who was of Czech background. After living in Brussels, the married couple moved to the United States. In the 1960s they began to acquire a reputation as sophisticated collectors and perceptive patrons of the arts, joining the boards of numerous museums and foundations, including Cimam (International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art) and the American Federation of Arts. In particular, Rudolph Schulhof was one of the trustees of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation from 1993 to 1999, while in 1980 Hannelore Schulhof became a Charter (Founding) Member of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Advisory Board, of which she remained member emeritus until her death.
The Schulhofs and Peggy Guggenheim met during a Venice Biennale, in 1954. They immediately became friends, thanks to the interests they had in common. Their bond was based on a shared passion for the arts, and contributed to the creation of the collection itself, as highlighted by Hannelore and Rudolph’s son Michael P. Schulhof: « Venice and Peggy Guggenheim had a strong influence on how the Schulhof Collection came to be formed. It is fitting that these works will take their place at the museum and add to the many wonderful reasons why Venice plays such an important role in the world of modern art ».
The collection thus began to take shape, with works by Afro, Alberto Burri, Alexander Calder, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Willem de Kooning, Lucio Fontana, Jean Dubuffet, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Mark Rothko, Claes Oldenburg, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Sol Lewitt, and Anish Kapoor.
Some of the most notable of the works to be displayed in Venice include those from the post-World War II era and others by artists of the New York School, who represented the United States among the generation that immediately followed American abstract expressionism, which Peggy herself supported extensively at her New York gallery Art of This Century. Movements such as Color Field and Minimal Art are represented for the first time in the Venice Museum, while the Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof Sculpture Garden will hosts sculptures by Tony Caro, Barbara Hepworth, Jenny Holzer, Anish Kapoor, Sol Lewitt, Isamu Noguchi and many others.
The collection is thus a perfect fit for the exhibition, and enhances its representation of European and American post-war art. As Philip Rylands, director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, noted, Peggy Guggenheim’s departure from New York in 1947 and the start of her life in Venice coincided with the end of her activities as a collector, while the «Schulhofs began their collecting where Peggy left off, so their collection represents a perfect fit, extending and enriching seamlessly the Venice museum’s post-war art with great works by great artists».