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Seattle Art Museum

Noted private art collection donated to Seattle museum

Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Museum of Art donors Jane Lang Davis and Richard E. Lang. Image courtesy of The Friday Foundation

SEATTLE (PRNewswire) – An exceptional collection of 20th century art assembled over a decade by late collectors Jane Lang Davis and Richard E. Lang will find permanent homes and be accessible to the public at the Seattle Art Museum and the Yale University Art Gallery.

The Friday Foundation, established to realize the Langs’ passion and philanthropy, today announced gifts of 19 masterworks and $10.5 million in dedicated funds to the Seattle Art Museum. In addition, the Friday Foundation announced a gift of six specifically chosen artworks to the Yale University Art Gallery.

Longtime philanthropists and arts supporters, the Langs wanted to ensure a strong, diverse and vibrant arts community. These gifts by the Friday Foundation follow the announcement in October 2020 of monetary gifts totaling $9 million to nine Seattle arts organizations.

The Langs thoroughly enjoyed sharing their collection and frequently opened their home to artists, scholars, students, museum groups and other collectors from around the world to experience the art. During their lifetimes, the Langs enjoyed hosting these visitors and always planned for works from their art collection to be accessible to the public. Living with the artworks in their Seattle-area home, they collected with a discerning eye, assembling one of the most important collections in the United States, including exceptional examples of Abstract Expressionism and postwar European modernism. Their art collection, which was displayed entirely in their home, was distinguished by its quality, rather than size.

Seattle Art Museum
One of the artworks donated to the Seattle Art Museum is Lee Krasner’s (1908-1984), ‘Night Watch,’ 1960, oil on canvas, 70 x 99in. Image courtesy of The Friday Foundation

The Friday Foundation’s signature gift is to the Seattle Art Museum. SAM has received 19 artworks that formed the core of the Lang Collection. Iconic artworks by Francis Bacon, Lee Krasner, Clyfford Still, Philip Guston, Joan Mitchell and David Smith, are exceptional examples of their best work.

Lyn Grinstein, president of Friday Foundation and daughter of Jane Lang Davis, said, “The gift of artworks to the Seattle Art Museum represents the richest core of my mother’s and stepfather’s fearlessly disciplined and tightly focused art collecting decade, as well as their commitment to the museum.”

“Taken together, these 19 artworks tell that story to the highest level possible, while each one individually is a definitive example of each artist’s work,” Grinstein said. “The accompanying gift of funds provides support for the museum’s ambitious agenda, particularly the presentation and care of not only these artworks, but also those already at SAM and future gifts from other donors. With these gifts, we fulfill my mother’s and Richard’s conviction that a strong cultural sector is a critical pillar of a thriving community and honor their dedication to Seattle, its citizens and its future.”

Many of the artworks donated to SAM represent a first for its collection: the first major paintings by Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell, the first Ad Reinhardt and Clyfford Still, the first paintings with iconic compositions by Adolph Gottlieb and Robert Motherwell, and, especially important considering the museum’s postwar European holdings, the first paintings by Francis Bacon and a major sculpture by Alberto Giacometti.

In addition to artwork, Friday Foundation has donated a total of $14.5 million to SAM. Today alone, Friday Foundation announced gifts totaling $10.5 million to SAM, including funds to support SAM’s postwar and contemporary art conservation programs, purchase technical equipment for art conservation, and to fund costs related to presenting the Lang Collection and other artworks.

The Friday Foundation selected six artworks to complement and expand the already strong representation of artists Mark Rothko and Franz Kline in the Yale University Art Gallery collection. This gift honors the Langs’ interest in following the paths of Rothko and Kline and adding depth to the study of these artists’ working methods and a greater understanding of the evolution of their careers within an academic museum setting.

Mimi Gardner Gates, art historian, director of SAM from 1994-2009 and former director of the Yale University Art Gallery, commented on the significance of these donations to the two museums: “The Friday Foundation deserves praise for its thoughtful consideration of where best to give these marvelous works of art collected by Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis, two Seattleites passionate about culture, artistic excellence and community. Their art and support of the Seattle Art Museum and the Yale University Art Gallery are a lasting legacy that benefits all of us.


Seattle Art Museum