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Notable Collections

The Chazen Museum of Art relies entirely on the generosity of private individuals to build the collections. Some donors have assembled large thematic collections in the course of their lifetimes and then bequeathed them to the museum. Among them are the following:

Baker/Pisano Collection

The Baker/Pisano Collection represents the life work of Fred Baker and his late partner, Ronald Pisano. Mr. Baker graduated from UW—Madison in 1959. He began donating items from his collection of American artworks from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to the Chazen Museum of Art (the then Elvehjem) in the 1970s. The collection includes early works on paper, monotypes, watercolor miniatures, paintings, and decorative arts, including Arts & Crafts ceramics, that together inform the creation of a national school of art in America. Highlights include paintings by Arthur Wesley Dow, Asher B. Durand, George Inness, and Elihu Vedder, and drawings by William Merritt Chase, John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer, John Marin, John Trumbull, and Benjamin West.

Simon & Rosemary Chen Family Collection

The permanent collection of Chinese art has been greatly expanded thanks to Simon K. Chen, a UW alum, and Rosemary Ho Chen. Their gift of more than 100 works includes Chinese calligraphy, painting, woodblock prints, and rubbings, dating from 1692 to 1996. Important works include paintings by early Qing artists Zhu Da and Yu Zhiding, and by Republican artists Gao Qifeng and Chang Dai-chien. Recent works represent the revival of traditional ink-painting techniques in mainland China after the Cultural Revolution. The paintings depict various subjects, such as landscapes, flowers, birds, and tigers. Styles range from expressionist ink painting to colorful representations, demonstrating how Chinese artists have adapted traditional techniques to modern contexts.

The Chen family has many ties to UW–Madison and the collection was donated to promote greater appreciation for Chinese art and culture in Wisconsin. Simon and Rosemary Chen also donated to the Kohler Art Library books on Chinese art, some of which are rare or unavailable in other university libraries.

Joseph E. Davies Collection

Alumnus Joseph E. Davies avidly collected paintings illustrating contemporary life and the ideals of Soviet socialism while in Russia as the American ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1938. In 1937 he donated 89 works to his alma mater, including Red Army in the Don Basin by Pavel Petrovich Sokolov-Skalya; The Cable Factory by Nikolai Alexandrovich Ionin; and The Colliery Terminus by Finageev.

Returning to Russia later that year, Davies acquired 23 icons through Stalin’s personal intervention and with the assistance of a Tretyakov Gallery curator. He donated these icons to the UW as well. A Byzantine triptych of the Deësis and Dodekaorton, bearing the coat-of-arms of Pope Paul III, is the largest and iconographically most complex of the group. The others, mostly single panel icons, are Russian in origin and represent various types produced from the 15th to 19th centuries.

Janice and Jean-Pierre Golay Collection

Janice and Jean-Pierre Golay became involved in the artistic community of Lausanne, Switzerland in the early 1980s. They subsequently moved to Madison—where they originally met—in 1988, bringing their growing collection as well as their dedication to art. In addition to works by Swiss artists like Ernst Häusermann, Armande Oswald, and Jacqueline Oyex, the collection includes artworks by local artists like Mary Bero, Warrington Colescott, and Dennis Nechvatel. The Golays were also integral in arranging the Elvehjem Art Museum’s exhibition Art in Switzerland 1991: Celebrating 700 Years Toward Democracy.

Vernon Hall Collection of Medals

Vernon Hall was a professor of comparative literature at UW–Madison from 1964 to 1980. During the 1970s he donated just over 300 portrait medals dating from the 15th to 20th centuries, with Renaissance and baroque medals comprising the strength of the collection. Notable Italian medals include contemporary casts of medals by Pisanello, whose subjects are Francesco I Sforza, Leonello d’Este, Sigismondo Malatesta, and Domenico Novello Malatesta; Amadio da Milano’s Niccolò III d’Este; Giulio della Torre’s self-portrait; the portrait of Giovanna Albizzi Tornabuoni attributed to Niccolò Fiorentino; and Bombarda’s portrait of his wife Leonora. Among the French medals are Nicolas Leclerc’s and Jean de Saint-Priest’s portrait of Louis XII and several major casts by Guillaume Dupré. In addition, the collection possesses some fine examples by Hans Reinhart the Elder and Coenraad Bloc.

Alexander and Henrietta W. Hollaender Collection

Alumnus Alexander Hollaender and his wife, Henrietta, collected paintings, sculpture, and works on paper for more than 50 years. They focused on America, Europe, and South and Central America art from the 1950s to the 1970s, and donated their collection gradually between 1979 and 1992.

The Hollaender Collection includes representative works by CoBrA artists as well as examples of Art Brut and Art Informel by the most influential members such as Jean Dubuffet, Carl Henning-Pedersen, Alberto Burri, Hans Hartung, and Antonio Saura. The best known of the CoBrA works is Clown of 1954 by Karel Appel. The collection also includes The Eagle by Germaine Richier, a colorful kinetic piece by Pol Bury, a welded iron sculpture by David Smith, and bronzes by Joán Miró and Max Ernst, and work by many other artists such as Anton Rooskens, Theo Wolvecamp, Alexander Calder, Adolph Gottlieb, Barbara Hepworth, Hans Hofmann, Louise Nevelson, and David Smith.

Stephen and Pamela Hootkin Collection

Since the early 1980s, Stephen and Pamela Hootkin have been collecting contemporary ceramics and ceramic sculpture. While they began collecting ceramic vessels, by the end of the decade they moved toward an edgier kind of work, with narrative content and strong psychological and existential overtones. Along the way, they befriended many of the artists they collected and formed deep and lasting relationships. Highlights of the collection include works by Robert Arneson, Beth Cavener, Viola Frey, Peter Gourfain, and Michael Lucero. Their vision in forming the collection was incredibly cohesive and focused. Stephen is an alumnus of UW—Madison, graduating with a BS in political science in 1964.

In 2014, the Chazen Museum of Art exhibited the Hootkin’s collection in The Human Condition: The Stephen and Pamela Hootkin Collection of Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture. Portions of the collection were donated to the Chazen Museum between 2012 and 2017 and the remainder of the collection is a promised gift.

Barbara Mackey Kaerwer Collection

Barbara Mackey Kaerwer (1921–2016) was an art historian, lecturer, and collector from Beloit, Wisconsin who received her undergraduate degree from UW—Madison. During her life, she collected German art from the early twentieth century, particularly German Expressionist prints, alongside Austrian fine and decorative art of the Vienna Secession and Wiener Werkstätte. While she was alive, she donated nearly 400 pieces of art to the Chazen and bequeathed more than 50 additional pieces upon her death. Highlights of this collection include the large painting Fight of the Titans by Austrian artist Koloman Moser, along with prints by Max Beckmann, Erich Heckel, Käthe Kollwitz, Franz Marc, Emil Nolde, and Egon Schiele.

Samuel H. Kress Collection

In 1961, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation donated fourteen Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings and sculptures to the University of Wisconsin. From 1929 to 1961, the Kress Collection of over 3,000 works of European art was disseminated by gift to many regional and academic art museums and universities throughout the United States, with the largest donation reserved for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  The Kress Collection at the Chazen Museum constitutes the core of the museum’s holdings of Italian Renaissance art, including works from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries by Andrea Vanni, Giovanni di Francesco Toscani, Guidoccio di Giovanni Cozzarelli, the workshop of Benedetto da Maiano, Il Giampietrino, Defendente Ferrari, Pietro Paolini, and Salvator Rosa.

Terese and Alvin S. Lane Collection

The Lanes began collecting art in the late 1950s, on a quest for a painting to hang over the couch, and over three decades acquired a significant collection of twentieth-century American and European sculpture by many important artists of the period, including Picasso, Magritte, Calder, John Chamberlain, Louise Nevelson, Joan Miró, and many others. Alvin Lane, a lawyer, was fascinated with what he called the “tangible evidence of creativity” and also accumulated a significant body of sculptors’ preparatory drawings. Alvin Lane was an alumnus of the UW–Madison class of 1940, a devoted Chazen council member, and a generous donor to the museum. The Chazen is honored to preserve and display Mr. and Mrs. Lane’s significant collection of modern art, the majority of which is on view in the Chazen Building.

Andrew Laurie Stangel Collection

Art medals have been created for centuries, usually to commemorate an event or person. Dr. Andrew Laurie Stangel, a UW alum, has generously donated a collection of late-nineteenth- to early-twentieth-century medals, most from Germany. The intimate size and scale of medals, and their double-sided character, provide artists with unique opportunities not offered by traditional painting or sculpture. These German medals are particularly notable for their political character and the artists’ responses to contemporary events, providing commentary that ranged from lavish admiration to wry contempt. With nearly 200 medals by artists such as Karl Goetz, Karl Ott, and Arno Brecker, this acquisition is an important supplement to the museum’s Vernon Hall Collection.

Tandem Press Archive

Administratively linked to the UW–Madison Department of Art, Tandem Press was founded in 1987 by William Weege, artist and professor of printmaking. Operating as an experimental printmaking workshop, Tandem hosts internationally recognized artists in Madison to lecture, interact with students, and produce new work in collaboration with the press’s master printers. Since its inception Tandem Press has produced hundreds of editions.

The Chazen Museum of Art serves as the official archive for the press and receives one impression of every editioned print. The museum also makes concerted efforts to acquire one or more monoprints or monotypes, which are produced occasionally. Among the past Tandem artists-in-residence are Art Spiegelman, David Lynch, Gronk, Suzanne Caporael, Judy Pfaff, Robert Stackhouse, Miriam Shapiro, Janet Fish, Robert Cottingham, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, Richard Bosman, Sam Gilliam, Sam Richardson, Joseph Goldyne, and Karen Kunc.

E. B. Van Vleck Collection of Japanese Prints

During the 1980s, John Hasbrouk Van Vleck and his wife Abigail donated more than 4,000 Japanese woodblock prints to the Chazen in memory of John’s father, Edward Burr Van Vleck, a mathematics professor at UW–Madison from 1906 to 1929.

E. B. Van Vleck began to collect Japanese prints around 1909. His most substantial acquisition, in the late 1920s, consisted of approximately 4,000 prints that had been owned by Frank Lloyd Wright. E. B. Van Vleck continued to buy and sell prints throughout his life. After his death, the collection was cared for by John Hasbrouk and Abigail.

The works record the history of Japanese printmaking from the late-18th into the 20th century. The 19th-century artist Utagawa Hiroshige is well represented; in fact some 2,200 prints make it one of the most extensive Hiroshige holdings in the world. The Van Vleck collection also has fine examples by Hokusai, Harunobu, Shunsho, Toyonobu, and many 20th-century shin-hanga artists such as Hasui and Yoshida.

Jane Werner Watson Collection

Jane Werner Watson, alumna and distinguished children’s book author, lived in India from 1960 to 1962 with her husband Earnest C. Watson, who was then a scientific attaché assigned to the US Embassy. The Watsons soon became enthralled by Indian art and began to collect it. The Watsons later generously donated their collection of Indian miniature paintings and South and Southeast Asian manuscripts to the Chazen.

The Watson Collection is one of the museum’s most important resources, and it comprises several hundred outstanding Indian miniature paintings, Indian folk paintings, and Tibetan Than-kas. There are also a variety of illuminated manuscripts, including a Koran, commentary and the poems of Hafiz, a Bhagavad Gita, several Persian manuscripts, including one from the 17th century on grammar, astronomy, mathematics, and cabalistics, an Ethiopian Bible, and a number of Buddhist palm-leaf manuscripts exemplifying the distinct calligraphic traditions of Nepal, Thailand, Burma, Tibet, and Ceylon.