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$44 Million Donation of Historic Artworks from Nancy Ruyle Dodge and Endowment from the Avenir Foundation includes the Largest Single Gift in Rutgers History
A groundbreaking collection of Soviet nonconformist art has been donated in its entirety to Zimmerli Art Museum. (Above: Commemorating the Russian Revolution, 1917/2017, photo Peter Jacobs)
The donation by Nancy and Norton Dodge, the largest single gift in Rutgers’ history, makes the museum the world’s principal site for studying and exhibiting the most vital, diverse, and daring strains of art produced throughout the USSR over four decades, said Thomas Sokolowski, director of the Zimmerli, and Nevin Kessler, president of the Rutgers University Foundation.
Nancy Ruyle Dodge has made the promised gift to the Zimmerli of her personal collection of more than 17,300 artworks in all media, with an estimated value of more than $34 million. These objects join the now-legendary body of some 4,000 Soviet nonconformist works that Ms. Dodge and her late husband Norton Dodge donated to the Zimmerli in 1991.
Accompanying the gift of art is an endowment of $10 million from the Avenir Foundation. This is the second endowment gift to the Zimmerli from the foundation, which in 2001 helped realize Nancy and Norton Dodge’s vision of global access to their works through exhibitions, publications, conservation and scholarship.
Now permanently united at the Zimmerli, the entire Nancy and Norton Dodge Collection represents the work of more than 1,000 artists active from about 1956 (the year of Nikita Khruschev’s “secret speech” to the 20th Party Congress, denouncing Stalinism and initiating a cultural thaw) through 1991 and the end of the Gorbachev era of glasnost and perestroika. Included among the newly donated works are paintings on canvas and panel, sculptures, assemblages, installations, works on paper, photographs, videos and artists’ books. Extending well beyond Russia in its scope, the collection includes many examples of nonconformist art produced in the Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
Some works from the new gift are already on view at the Zimmerli in the exhibition Commemorating the Russian Revolution, 1917/2017 (on view through February 18, 2018). While many exhibitions and events are taking place around the world on the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, the Zimmerli’s show is the only one that uses the Dodge collection to view the long aftermath of this upheaval through the eyes of artists who courageously refused the constraints on subject matter and style imposed by the Soviet state.
IMAGES: Victor Pivovarov, No. 2, Socialization for a Friendly Party, from the album Socralizators, 1979, graphite and colored pencil on paper, photo Jack Abraham; Boris Orlov, The General, 1982, painted wood, photo McKay Imaging; Timur Novikov, Untitled, undated, oil on linen, photo Peter Jacobs. All works Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union.