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The Huntington opens new gallery space devoted to American art

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The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, well known for its collection of British art, has dramatically expanded its American art display by adding more than 5,000 square feet of new gallery space. The five new rooms in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art will feature nearly 100 works of 20th-century art in an area previously used for storage.

“The Huntington has quickly become one of the finest repositories of American art in the United States,” said Kevin Salatino, Hannah and Russel Kully Director of the Art Collections at The Huntington. “This expansion should delight—and in many cases, surprise—our visitors with a number of remarkable new acquisitions. We’re in an exciting moment for The Huntington, particularly for the continuing evolution of American art, whose story we’re able to tell now with greater depth and breadth.”

The five new rooms focus on the following topics: The early 20th-century landscape, with works made from 1900 through the 1920s; photographs, with an emphasis on The Huntington’s substantial Edward Weston holdings; paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts made in the 1930s; geometric abstraction and Pop Art; and The Huntington’s painting Global Loft (Spread) by Robert Rauschenberg, whose interest in becoming an artist was inspired by a visit to The Huntington in 1946, rounded out with important loans from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

“While our display has always addressed the 20th century, now we are able to explore important themes in greater depth,” said Jessica Todd Smith, Virginia Steele Scott Chief Curator of American Art at The Huntington. “We will be sharing with visitors a solid representation of pre- and postwar American art, with major works from some of the most innovative and influential artists of the period.”

The Huntington acquired the 1979 Global Loft (Spread) in 2012, a complex work that incorporates pieces of fabric, found objects (three glue brushes), and appropriated images with acrylic paint on three conjoined wood panels. It will be surrounded by prints lent by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation that explore the relationship between Rauschenberg’s printmaking practice and his paintings.

“We’re thrilled to be part of this partnership with the Rauschenberg Foundation,” says Jessica Todd Smith, the Virginia Steele Scott Chief Curator of American Art. Like Global Loft, many of the prints on loan feature appropriated imagery and found objects.

As in the existing galleries, the new rooms will display fine and decorative arts in integrated displays, arranged thematically and in rough chronological order.