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Contemporary Art

Loosely defined as the art of today or the art of our lifetime, the term “contemporary art” is usually used more specifically to describe artworks created since the 1980s or 1990s. For collection purposes, the Frye Art Museum currently delineates the scope as 1990 to the present. In the more general sense, the Frye has collected and exhibited contemporary—or contemporaneous—art since its opening in 1952. This commitment to the art and culture of the present was catalyzed by Museum founders Charles and Emma Frye, who amassed a collection of paintings made within their own lifetimes and often purchased works directly from living artists. Over the last seven decades, directors of the Museum have each brought their own interests and interpretations to bear on the Frye’s engagement with contemporary art and thereby shaped a distinctive collection. Prior to the tenure of Elsa “Midge” Bowman (Director, 2004–09), and often counter to dominant trends in art of the time, the Frye’s leadership focused exclusively on exhibiting and collecting representational art, citing Charles and Emma Frye’s preferences for figurative and landscape painting. Under Bowman’s direction, the exhibitions program at the Frye expanded into areas like video art and performance that questioned and upended the definition of representational art. In 2008, the Museum’s mission was revised to embrace art in its myriad forms. The Frye’s contemporary art collection has grown significantly since that time, reflecting the diversity of the institution’s engagement with local, national, and international artists working today.

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Title Artist Medium Date
Untitled   Yamahira, Ko Kirk   Acrylic and graphite on partially unwoven canvas with wood  2019 
Five Capital Punishments in China: Drawing and Quartering   Zhi Lin   Acrylic and silkscreen over charcoal underdrawing on canvas with cotton curtain and ribbons  2007 
If Marco Polo Brought the Pasta Meme to Europe from China, He didn't Need to be a Pasta Chef but all he Had to do was to Disperse the Meme in the Environment and Other Humans Infected by it, Would Express it in their Behaviour   Haerizadeh, Rokni   Gesso, watercolor and ink on printed paper  2017-18 
Lilith and Woman   Broca, Lilian   Graphite and spackle on panel  1999 
Snowflake Drawing #5 (Double Lotus Pod)   Mitchell, Jeffry   Graphite, ink, carbon transfer, and watercolor on paper  2018 
Beltway Apocalypse   Horsey, David   Graphite, pen, and ink on illustration board  1998 
Untitled (Badlands)   Aranda, Juventino   Oil on wool Pendleton blanket  2018 


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