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Modern Sculpture from the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Collection
Contributions by H. H. Arnason, Abram Lerner, and Thomas M. Messer
Published in 1962
252 pages, fully illustrated
Modern Sculpture from the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Collection was presented in 1962–63 and, comprising 444 works, was the first comprehensive presentation of sculpture from the Hirshhorn Collection. As director Thomas M. Messer notes in the catalogue, since the entirety of the collection far exceeded the capacity of the museum, careful decisions were made in order to represent the unique balance between Hirshhorn's favorite sculptors, his classic pieces, and experimental works by little-known artists. As a result, the exhibition included Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Honoré Daumier, Edgar Degas, Giacomo Manzù, Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, and many others, 128 artists in all. The catalogue features a foreword by Abram Lerner; a short essay by H. H. Arnason; short essays on featured artists such as Arp, Brancusi, and Rodin; thematic essays on Constructivism, Cubism, the Sculptor-Painters, fantasy in sculpture, and more; and an extensive selection of black-and-white photographs of the works. The final pages of the catalogue include artist biographies, a checklist of works on view, a general bibliography, and a bibliography organized by artist.
Joseph H. Hirshhorn started his Collection about 30 years ago. Freedom of action, which would seem to be a cornerstone of Mr. Hirshhorn's personality, is also characteristic of the private collector. This degree of independence is usually not available to most curators and museum directors who are responsible to their trustees, budgets, patrons, and history. There is nothing to deter the collector from exercising his own prejudices and enthusiasm as long a she can afford them. In consequence, the private collection has a unique individuality—extravagant in some ways, reserved in others. It also has a unique function in that it can complement the historically oriented and carefully balanced museum collection by its willingness to emphasize particular artists or movements, and to welcome the very old or very new with equal ardor. It is free to move in any direction and the degree to which it profits from such autonomy is often the index of its quality.