Our collection of contemporary art reflects a growing interest in current art and culture. The holdings and exhibitions focus on Western art from 1945 to the present, including paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, and photographs, complementing and building on the strength of our historical holdings.
The contemporary collection includes artists as diverse as Romare Bearden, Louise Bourgeois, Joseph Cornell, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Joseph Kosuth, Adrian Piper, Ad Reinhardt, Cindy Sherman, David Smith, Kiki Smith, Alma Thomas, Bob Thompson, and Kara Walker. These artists use a variety of formal approaches, ranging from representational to abstract to conceptual. Some are inspired by traditional fine art subjects, such as figure and landscape, and many engage in the political and social issues affecting culture as a whole.
In addition to developing our permanent collection, the curators of contemporary art organize special exhibitions with loans from many other institutions, such as Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940–1960, and the acclaimed Grand Lobby projects. Since the mid-1980s, we have invited young Brooklyn artists to participate in the Working in Brooklyn exhibition series. The curators also prepared the large survey exhibition Open House: Working in Brooklyn to celebrate the opening of our Rubin Pavilion and showcase the creative renaissance under way in the borough. The department also mounted the highly acclaimed exhibition Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005.
Our curators field inquiries about contemporary artists and exhibitions relevant to the Brooklyn Museum, as well as making files and works in storage accessible to students and scholars. We acknowledge that art constitutes a vital educational tool and a testament to future generations about our times.