For years, Patricia Phelps de Cisneros has made headlines for giving portions of her massive Latin American art collection to museums around the world. On Wednesday, the influential Venezuelan art collector announced she would once again be donating more than 200 pieces to six renowned institutions, including the Blanton Museum of Art, part of The University of Texas at Austin.
Also receiving portions of the gift are The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York City; the Museo de Arte de Lima in Peru; Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires in Argentina; and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.
The Austin art museum will receive 45 of the 202 pieces, second only to the MoMA which will receive 88. For the Blanton, the acquisition bolsters the museum's Latin American art collection to rival that of the most prominent art institutions in the world.
“As leaders in the exhibition and study of art from Latin America, we look forward to being able to illuminate new connections in our collection and to offer opportunities for diverse audiences to learn about and appreciate Latin American art," said the Blanton's director, Simone Wicha.
In an interview with the New York Times, Cisernos points out that this is more than just showcasing beautiful work, it's about creating dialogue. "Our mission has always been to build bridges of understanding between Latin America and the U.S. and the rest of the world, rather than to build walls,” she told the Times.
The pieces come from a collection that Cisneros has spent more than 40 years amassing. Her gift includes works from prominent Latin American artists including Mateo Manuare, Claudio Perna, Leda Catunda, Mariana Castillo Deball, and Mateo López. The donation also adds work from 20 new artists to the Blanton's permanent collection.
Wednesday's gift marks Cisernos' second major donation to the Blanton. In summer 2017, she gave a collection of colonial Latin American art to the museum.
“The Blanton is known for its longstanding and comprehensive collection of art from Latin America and for its dedication to furthering scholarship and interdisciplinary study in the field of Latin American art," Cisernos said in a release.
In keeping with that spirit of scholarship, the Blanton says Cisernos' gift will become a cornerstone of the museum's teaching collection, and will offer new possibilities for collaboration across educational disciplines.