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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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by Artist
Night Forest

Ann Leda Shapiro
Watercolor and watercolor pencil on archival paper
2022

Formation

Kelly Akashi
Chromogenic crystallograph in aluminum artist's frame
2021

For Fun

Khari Johnson-Ricks
Watercolor on paper with acetate
2021

Mangahufo' I famaguon

Gisela McDaniel
Oil on panel, found object, sound
2021

Butterfly

Bony Ramirez
Acrylic, soft oil pastel, color pencil, wallpaper, metal chain, dried coconuts
2021

Madrone + Mullan

Sadie Wechsler
Archival inkjet print in madrone artist's frame
2021

To a Flame

Anthony White
PLA (plastic) on panel
2019

Untitled

Ko Kirk Yamahira
Acrylic and graphite on partially unwoven canvas with wood
2019

Untitled (Badlands)

Juventino Aranda
Oil on wool Pendleton blanket
2018