Olga Hirshhorn Collects: Selections from the Permanent Collection
This exhibition featured highlights from the extensive collection of Olga Hirshhorn, who has made many generous gifts of art to the Corcoran over the past 12 years. Mrs. Hirshhorn is a passionate collector with an extraordinary breadth of interest. From Cypriot and pre-Columbian antiquities to prints and drawings by contemporary masters, she has amassed a treasure trove of primarily small and domestic-scale objects that demonstrates her searching, critical eye and sensitivity to a wide range of forms and styles. Olga Hirshhorn Collects showcased striking, often intimate works by 20th-century American and European artists, including Niki de Saint Phalle, Sam Francis, Morris Graves, Edward Hopper, Joan Mitchell, Alex Katz, and Ed Ruscha, and multiple examples by a few of the artists whose work Mrs. Hirshhorn has collected in depth, such as Anni and Josef Albers, Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Larry Rivers, and Bob Thompson.
The majority of art in the Olga Hirshhorn collection was made during the 1960s and 1970s, when she was most actively acquiring works. Frequently visiting galleries and artists’ studios with her late husband, Joseph H. Hirshhorn, the financier, philanthropist, and founding donor of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, she cultivated a view of art and the art world from the perspective of an insider. A number of works were gifts from artists and evidence the close relationships Mrs. Hirshhorn developed with some of the 20th century’s most important figures. In many cases her taste for small works led her to acquire sketches and other impromptu expressions that reveal the idiosyncrasies of a given artist’s working methods or thought processes. As she stated, “This collection represents a lot of friendships that we established early on, but it also teaches us about how artists think, how they work. I’ve learned a lot from living with these objects. I’m so pleased that others will now have a chance to enjoy them as we did.”