Expanding Art

June 1, 2007
The collector: Byrne stands in front of The uncertain museum, an installation he helped the Nasher

The collector: Byrne stands in front of The uncertain museum, an installation he helped the Nasher Butch Usery

On the occasion of his 50th reunion at Duke, and in honor of Raymond D. Nasher '43, the late founder and namesake of the Nasher Museum, E. Blake Byrne '57 promised a gift of thirty-seven works of contemporary art to the museum. The collection, which doubles the Nasher's contemporary art holdings, includes works by Anthony Caro, David Hammons, Jasper Johns, Sol Lewitt, Glenn Ligon,

Paul Pfeiffer, Thomas Scheibitz, Rudolf Schwartzkogler, and Kehinde Wiley. It also includes a chair made of erasers by Gary Simmons, known for his chalkboard drawings, and portfolios of serial prints and photographs by Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha, and Hiroshi Sugimoto.

The gift draws from the collection that Byrne, chair of the Nasher Museum's advisory board, has built over the past twenty years. His collection represents important artists of the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries. Byrne is listed as one of ARTnews magazine's top 200 collectors in the world and as one of Art & Antiques magazine's "100 Top Collectors Who Are Making a Difference."

Byrne is a longtime supporter of Duke, and two of the gallery spaces in the Nasher Museum's Biddle Pavilion are named for the Byrne family. He also recently gave a seminal painting by South African artist Marlene Dumas, The Woman of Algiers, to the Nasher Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, a gift shared by the two museums. Byrne was instrumental in helping the museum purchase The uncertain museum, a 2004 installation by Danish artist Olafur ElĂ­asson.

An exhibit, "Collected Identities: Gifts from the Blake Byrne Collection," on display through September 30, features selections from the gift, as well as works on loan from Byrne, including those by Fred Wilson and John Baldessari.