The Permanent Collection of the South Bend Museum of Art presents over 60 years of acquisition. The collection features the work of historical Indiana artists, and significant contemporary regional artists, which makes it a unique collection for the community it serves.
Selections from the Permanent Collection are exhibited in the Carmichael Gallery.
The Hoosier Group
The collection grew out of a community based creation called the South Bend Art Association, founded in 1947. The “Hoosier Group” were among important artists featured by this organization, and spurred interest in the visual arts in the area. The collection was founded by an initial gift from Mr. and Mrs. E. M. Morris, and continued to grow through purchases, gifts and donations. Artists included in this initial gift of the Morris’s include William Forsyth, Clifton Wheeler, Daniel Garber, Theodore Clement Steele, and George Jo Mess.
The Brown County School
Included in the collection of regional art are works by early Indiana Impressionist painters, also called the Hoosier School, or Brown County School. Some of these artists include T. C. Steele, Frank Dudley, George Ames Aldrich, Clarence Ball, and Alexis Fournier. A long term loan from the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame features over 20 paintings by some of these historical Indiana artists, as well as others such as Emil Jacques, Homer Davisson, Frank Dudley, Luigi Gregori, and Ivan Mestrovic. Some of these artists were important educators at the university.
Regional and national
Another group of works focuses on Indiana-born artists of note such as William Merritt Chase, Daniel Garber, Sam Gilliam, and Robert Indiana.
The remainder of the collection features art by nationally recognized American artists including Lynda Benglis, Thomas Hart Benton, Mark di Suvero, Audrey Flack, Robert Henri, Jacob Lawrence, Louise Nevelson, Larry Rivers, and John Storrs.
A small but important group of paintings of national scope is our collection of works from the Chicago Imagists, also known as the Hairy Who. These works are a strong example of contemporary style, and are popular with our patrons. Some of these artists include Roger Brown, Ed Paschke, Gladys Nilsson, and Ray Yoshida.
These nationally recognized works provide a context for our regional collection. Comparisons between trends and movements, and aesthetic considerations such as subject and media, allow for interpretation on the idea of regional style. Much of the work by nationally recognized artists are works on paper.
Other stylistic periods of American art represented by the collection include late 19th century genre painting, the Ash Can School , Urban Realism, Regionalism, Pop Art, New Realism, and Photo-Realism.
Acquisition of several series of prints has allowed us to collect some of these nationally recognized artists, and also to address socio-political work pertaining to issues of racism, feminism, and tolerance. Examples of these suites of prints include the Kent Bicentennial Portfolio: “Spirit of Independence” which includes works by Robert Indiana, Alex Katz, Jacob Lawrence, and Marisol Escobar. Another suite from this period is the Boston Massacre Portfolio featuring Larry Rivers. These prints celebrate our country’s history while addressing issues of tolerance, diversity and political dissent.
The 10×10: Ten Women/Ten Prints includes works by Hung Liu, Yolanda Lopez, Carrie Mae Weems, and Faith Ringold. These prints address current feminist issues and highlight works by prominent minority artists of Chinese, Latino, and African-American backgrounds.
Collection activity has been sustained through several means: purchase awards for sculpture and craft biennial exhibitions as well as full-media shows; gifts and donations; the Zisla Acquisition Fund; and the General Acquisitions Fund.