Featured Acquisition

Purvis Young

Purvis Young, American, 1943–2010. Big Smiling Head in Landscape with People, 1980s. Mixed media on found wood panel, 24 7/8 × 21 7/8 × 2 inches. Gift of Selig D. Sacks in honor of Rodney Harder, a gifted educator and artist, 2019.313. © Larry T. Clemons / Gallery 721 / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

In the past two years, the FIA has received 68 artworks by Purvis Young. Sixty-six objects, including drawings and paintings, were given by Selig Sacks, and two drawings were donated by Dr. Sharon Simeon. These gifts represent a significant addition to our collection of works by African American artists, which continues to grow each year through gifts and purchases. 

Purvis Young drew on his life experience living in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, Florida, creating art on discarded objects he found. On his bicycle, he circled his neighborhood gathering materials, supplies, and inspiration for his works. Scraps of paper, restaurant menus, discarded doors, wood, and metal became his canvases. Using quick, expressive gestures, he filled these works through his unique visual lexicon of common imagery such as boats, horses, warriors, and prisoners. Young taught himself art, studying art books about Old Masters such as Rembrandt and El Greco. Although he was considered the unofficial historian of Overtown, the themes in his work are universal to the Black experience.

In his life, he realized that he could use his art to express himself and his grievances with the world. Young’s paintings and drawings became his voice of protest for the injustices he and his community experienced. According to Young, “I paint the problems of the world—what I see in the world, I paint it. Sometimes I hope the world is a better place, but I just paint the problem.” Young continued to draw and paint up until his death in 2010. On his inability to stop creating art, he once said, “When the world quiets down, I’ll quiet down.”

Image: Purvis Young, American, 1943–2010. Big Smiling Head in Landscape with People, 1980s. Mixed media on found wood panel, 24 7/8 × 21 7/8 × 2 inches. Gift of Selig D. Sacks in honor of Rodney Harder, a gifted educator and artist, 2019.313. © Larry T. Clemons / Gallery 721 / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Recent Acquisitions of African Art

Northern Igbo, Federal Republic of Nigeria. Seated Figure, early 20th century. Wood, 291/2 x 103/4 x 11 in. Museum purchase with funds from the Collection Endowment, 2021.8

Recent purchases on view in the Arts of Africa Gallery are in keeping with the FIA’s strategic plan goal to “increase the depth and diversity of artists in the permanent collection.” Ten works purchased at auction with restricted acquisition funds deepen the quality and range of the African collection, adding styles, regions, and peoples not previously represented, including masks from the Lwalwa and Salampasu peoples from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a spider mask from the Bété peoples in Côte d’Ivoire; an ancestor figure and masks from the Igbo, and a figure from the Mumuye peoples of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Additionally, a rare double-faced mask made for the mother of deceased twins from the Senufo (Côte d’Ivoire) and a significant figure of trickster god Eshu from the Yoruba (Federal Republic of Nigeria) were added to the collection. 

The African Art collection at the FIA was established by a gift of more than 50 objects from Justice G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams in the 1970s. Williams was the 41st governor of Michigan, elected in 1948, and served six two-year terms in office. He later served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President John F. Kennedy, and in 1970 was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court, being named Chief Justice in 1983. During his time as Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, he collected artworks, later donating selections from his collection to the Detroit Institute of Arts, Oakland University, and the FIA. The recently purchased acquisitions were also from the estate of a former Michigan public servant—Senator Jack Faxon. Faxon was a Detroit native who taught government in Detroit Public Schools and later served in the Michigan legislature as state senator. Passionate about the arts, as well as an avid collector, he is known for being the composer of the bill establishing the Michigan Council for the Arts.

Image: Northern Igbo, Federal Republic of Nigeria. Seated Figure, early 20th century. Wood, 29 1/2 x 10 3/4 x 11 in. Museum purchase with funds from the Collection Endowment, 2021.8


Recent Acquisitions

Chakaia Booker, American, born 1953. Untitled (CB.1.21), 2021. Lithograph with chine-collé on embossed paper, 21 × 14 inches. Commissioned for the Flint Print Club, 2021.12
Judy Bowman, American, born 1952. Mom on Seneca, 2021. Archival pigment print on paper, 22 × 30 inches. Museum purchase with funds from the Collection Endowment, 2021.13 
Salvador Ysart, Scottish, born Spain, 1878–1955. Filigree Feathers Weight, ca. 1925–1950. Glass, 3 inches diameter. Museum purchase with funds donated by Susan Steiner Bolhouse, 2021.14
Paul Ysart, Scottish, 1904–1992. Filigree Pink Snake Weight, ca. 1950–1975. Glass, 23/4 inches diameter. Museum purchase, 2021.15
Peter McDougall, Scottish, born 1952. 12 Millefiori Weight, 21st century. Glass, 31/2 inches. Museum purchase with funds donated by H. Michael Parker in memory of Rita A. Parker, 2021.16
Thomas Cornell, American, 1937–2012. 37 works on paper, ca. 1960–1990. Dimensions vary. Gift of the Estate of Thomas Cornell, 2021.17–2021.53
Paul Birdsall, American. Untitled, 1930–40s. Watercolor on paper, 7 × 10 inches. Gift of Constance Evanoff Knaggs, David G. Knaggs and Michael B. Evanoff in honor of Genevieve and Michael W. Evanoff, 2021.54
Lucienne Bloch, American, born Switzerland, 1909–1999. Progress, 1936 (later state of 1935 edition). Woodcut on paper, 10 1/2 × 8 3/4 inches. Gift of Constance Evanoff Knaggs, David G. Knaggs and Michael B. Evanoff in honor of Genevieve and Michael W. Evanoff, 2021.55  Bench Head 142, 2020. Stoneware, 26 × 24 × 24 inches. Museum purchase with funds donated by Friends of Modern Art, 2021.77
John Davies, American, born Scotland, 1901–1965. Untitled, 1956. Screenprint on paper, 3 1/2 × 6 1/4 inches. Gift of Constance Evanoff Knaggs, David G. Knaggs and Michael B. Evanoff in honor of Genevieve and Michael W. Evanoff, 2021.56
John Davies, American, born Scotland, 1901–1965. Untitled, 1957. Screenprint on paper, 8 × 5 inches. Gift of Constance Evanoff Knaggs, David G. Knaggs and Michael B. Evanoff in honor of Genevieve and Michael W. Evanoff, 2021.57
John Davies, American, born Scotland, 1901–1965. Untitled, n.d. Screenprint on paper, 51/4 × 71/2 inches. Gift of Constance Evanoff Knaggs, David G. Knaggs and Michael B. Evanoff in honor of Genevieve and Michael W. Evanoff, 2021.58 
Harry Glassgold, American, born Russia, 1908–1984. Untitled, 1946. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 13 inches. Gift of Constance Evanoff Knaggs, David G. Knaggs and Michael B. Evanoff in honor of Genevieve and Michael W. Evanoff, 2021.59
Harry Glassgold, American, born Russia, 1908–1984. Untitled, 1946. Watercolor and ink on paper, 9 × 13 inches. Gift of Constance Evanoff Knaggs, David G. Knaggs and Michael B. Evanoff in honor of Genevieve and Michael W. Evanoff, 2021.60
Shirley Olmstead Foster, American. Untitled, 1946. Pastel on paper, 101/4 × 14 inches. Gift of Constance Evanoff Knaggs, David G. Knaggs and Michael B. Evanoff in honor of Genevieve and Michael W. Evanoff, 2021.61
Douglas Prince, American, born 1943. Extrusion Map-102, 2010. Digital print on paper, 91/2 × 12 inches. Gift of Douglas Prince, 2021.62
Douglas Prince, American, born 1943. Filament-09, 2018. Digital print on paper, 91/2 × 12 inches. Gift of Douglas Prince, 2021.63
Douglas Prince, American, born 1943. Panaesthetic-24, 2014. Digital print on paper, 91/2 × 12 inches. Gift of Douglas Prince, 2021.64
Douglas Prince, American, born 1943. Coalescence-09, 2007. Digital print on paper, 91/2 × 12 inches. Gift of Douglas Prince, 2021.65
Douglas Prince, American, born 1943. Horizon Event-38, 2020. Digital print on paper, 91/2 × 12 inches. Gift of Douglas Prince, 2021.66
Based on a 1909–10 design by Frank Lloyd Wright, American, 1867–1959. Manufactured by Oakbrook Esser Studio (licensed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation) American, founded 1986. Window from Avery Coonley Playhouse, Clerestory One Design. Clear and colored glass with zink channel and wooden frame, 181/4 × 34 inches. Gift of Dr. Seymour and Barbara K. Adelson, 2021.67
Based on a 1909–10 design by Frank Lloyd Wright, American, 1867–1959. Manufactured by Oakbrook Esser Studio (licensed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation), American, founded 1986. Window from Avery Coonley Playhouse, Clerestory Two Design. Clear and colored glass with zinc channel and wooden frame, 34 × 18 inches. Gift of Dr. Seymour and Barbara K. Adelson, 2021.68 
Albert G. Richards, American, 1917–2008. Rose, ca. 1996. Radiograph on paper, 10 × 8 inches. Gift of Dr. Seymour and Barbara K. Adelson, 2021.69
Steve Schmeck, American. Duet (bowl and spoon), 2009. Carved cherry wood, Bowl: 51/2 × 19 × 101/2 inches; Spoon: 12 inches. Gift of Nora B. Stevens, 2021.70
Steve Schmeck, American. Loopy, 2007. Carved cherry wood, 4 × 16 × 11 inches. Gift of Nora B. Stevens, 2021.71
Italian, Paperweight, ca. 1950. Glass, 23/4 inches diameter. Gift of William and Kathi Thoreson Hasenohrl, 2021.72 Rodolphe LaRiviere, American, born Canada, 1912–1983. Untitled (Flint, Michigan), n.d. Ink on Masonite, 7 × 91/2 inches. Gift of the Estate of Donald R. and Marian J. Thoreson Sr., 2021.73
Norman MacLeish, American, 1890–1975. Illinois Landscape with Pole Barn, 1949. Watercolor on paper, 15 × 191/2 inches. Gift of Lawrence F. and Joanne M. Piper, 2021.74
Michael James Hunter, English, born 1958. Cane slice for Close Concentric Murrine with Finch, 2019. Glass 1 inches diameter. Gift of Michael James Hunter / Twists Glass Studio, 2021.75 
Jim D’Onofrio, American, born 1951. Frog paperweight, 1995. Glass, 31/4 inches diameter. Gift of James Fred Ashley, 2021.76
Matt Wedel, American, born 1983. Mourning Bench Head 142, 2020. Stoneware, 26 × 24 × 24 inches. Museum purchase with funds donated by Friends of Modern Art, 2021.77