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With One Gift, MFA Fills A Void In African-American Art 06:30
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"Cocktails" by Archibald Motley was one of seven works by major African-American artists donated to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts by the collector John Axelrod. (Courtesy: MFA)
"Cocktails" by Archibald Motley was one of seven works by major African-American artists donated to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts by the collector John Axelrod. (Courtesy: MFA)

Seven works by significant African-American artists will be unveiled at the Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday, with 60 more on the way. This has been made possible by Boston art collector, John Axelrod - an eminent benefactor at the museum and a former member of its trustee and overseer diversity advisory committee.

"It's a proud moment for the MFA," said Malcolm Rodgers, the director of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Axelrod's collection is 15 years in the making and includes the work of artists such as Archibald Motley Jr., Beauford Delaney, Norman Lewis, and almost every major African-American artist working during the past century-and-a-half.

The MFA has long been criticized for its lack of modern and African-American art. As Elliot Bostwick Davis — the chair of the museum's Art of the Americas department — told The Boston Globe: "This is an area that I think it's hard to make progress in, and it's very hard for a museum of our stature to step up to the top-tier without being able to acquire a collection like this."

This isn't Axelrod's first major contribution to the museum, either. There is a gallery in the Art of the Americas wing named after him for his 2008 donation of over 300 works of American decorative art. Axelrod will receive between $5 million and $10 million for the collection: a fraction of its actual value, and a small price to pay for vastly enriching the museum's presentation of the American experience.

Guest:

  • Geoff Edgers, arts reporter, The Boston Globe

More from The Boston Globe:

This program aired on November 3, 2011.

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