The collection of contemporary art reflects a growing interest in current art and culture. Its 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 the Museum's historical holdings.
The 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 utilize many different 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 the 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, they 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 the Museum's new Rubin Pavilion and showcase the creative renaissance now under way in the borough. Most recently the department mounted the highly acclaimed exhibition Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005.
Selected works from the contemporary collection can be seen in American Identities on the fifth floor of the Museum.
As a resource to the public, the curators field inquiries about contemporary artists and exhibitions relevant to the Brooklyn Museum, as well as making its files and its works in storage accessible to students and scholars. These activities acknowledge that art objects constitute a vital educational tool and a testament to future generations about our era.
If you are an artist and would like to submit material for consideration, please see our submission guidelines.
Contemporary Art at the Museum is supported by the Contemporary/Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Art Council.