three separate artworks in one collage: a sepia toned photo of a woman with sunglasses at her desk, a chello made of three televisions, and a painting of a black man wearing a top hat surrounded by birds

November 22, 2023

Hirshhorn Announces Over 80 Acquisitions by 48 Modern and Contemporary Artists
Artworks by Sonia Boyce, Glenn Ligon, LuYang, Guadalupe Maravilla, Nam June Paik, More Expand Holdings of Latin American and Diasporic Art, Time-Based Media

The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has acquired over 80 artworks by more than 45 modern and contemporary artists through purchase and gift since November 2022. Recent acquisitions by the likes of Dawoud Bey, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Woody De Othello, Cao Fei, Guadalupe Maravilla, Cindy Sherman, longtime collaborators Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca and others, range from painting and sculpture to fiber, mixed-media installation, and, in depth, time-based artwork.

“As the Hirshhorn approaches its 50th anniversary next year, we are expanding the permanent collection to reflect the transnational narrative of modern and contemporary art history,” said Melissa Chiu, Hirshhorn director. “Newly acquired artworks signal our scholarly interest in pioneering figures: Marcel Duchamp, Robert Irwin and Nam June Paik, and contemporary Americans such as Dawoud Bey, Derek Fordjour, and Dindga McCannon; global luminaries like Pacita Abad, Esther Mahlangu, and Wangechi Mutu, as well as rising artists including Sayre Gomez, Dyani White Hawk, and Flora Yukhnovich.”

Many recent acquisitions emphasize the Museum’s commitment to collecting artists throughout their careers. Three artworks by Nam June Paik— TV Glasses (1971), Bakelite Robot (2002) and TV Cello (2005)—join his groundbreaking Video Flag (1996) and contextualize his role as the foundational pioneer of video art. Glenn Ligon’s Untitled (America/Me) (2022) becomes the seventh work, and first in neon, by the artist to enter the collection, building on a portfolio of prints acquired in 1993. The Museum received 16 additional artworks by Duchamp and artists he influenced from Barbara and Aaron Levine, whose 2018 promised gift of more than 35 works inspired the 2019 exhibition, Marcel Duchamp: The Barbara and Aaron Levine Collection. Recent additions include second works by Amoako Boafo, Tony Oursler, and Avery Singer.

The museum’s holding of work by Latin American artists and artists of the Latin American diaspora—areas of strength in Joseph H. Hirshhorn’s foundational gift—continue to significantly expand. Acquisitions include a large-scale sculptural installation by El Salvador–born artist Maravilla that activates therapeutic sound bath performances; a free-standing assemblage by Mexican artist Cruzvillegas that references Duchamp; and a lush woven sculpture by Carioca Maria Nepomuceno. Video works by Panama-based artists Donna Conlon and Jonathan Harker; Wagner and de Burca, who explore socio-cultural conditions in Brazil; and Buenos Aires–born Liliana Porter underscore the Museum’s commitment to moving-image artwork.

Several acquisitions, including those by Irwin, Toyin Ojih Odutola and Kunié Sugiura, reflect the Hirshhorn’s commitment to collecting artworks from Museum exhibitions. Photographs by Cao and a digital animation by LuYang, recently on view in A Window Suddenly Opens: Contemporary Photography in China, further signal the Hirshhorn’s dedication to evolving its transnational art history.

Highlights include:

  • Sonia Boyce OBE RA explores art as social practice and the contextual debates that arise from this area of study. She represented Great Britain at the 2022 Venice Biennale, receiving the Golden Lion. For you, only you (2007), a three-channel video, is the first work by Boyce to enter the collection, bolstering holdings of time-based artworks by Black British artists such as John Akomfrah CBE RA and Isaac Julien.
  • An integral member of the new generation of Chinese avant-garde artists, Cao Fei created early works that express what she calls as the “lostness” of her era. COSplayers (2004) and RMB City: A Second Life City Planning (2007) delve into the imaginative worlds that accompanied the rise of the Internet and video game technology, offering a means of escape from everyday reality.
  • Abraham Cruzvillegas undertakes a sculptural and social practice as political as it is poetic. Self-portrait nude descending a staircase at the Raval (2012), a reference to work by Marcel Duchamp, is emblematic of autoconstrucción, the Mexican artist’s sculptural and installation concept, which serves as an ongoing project of self-portraiture, often drawing parallels between the construction of vernacular architecture and the construction of self.
  • Robert Irwin’s Form for Tomorrow (Gray) (1960) represents a key developmental moment in the artist’s career before he abandoned traditional paintings in favor of site-responsive artworks. The piece was included in the Hirshhorn’s 2016 survey Robert Irwin: All the Rules Will Change, the first museum exhibition devoted to Irwin’s work from the 1960s.
  • Salvadoran artist Guadalupe Maravilla arrived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant fleeing civil war when he was eight. In Disease Thrower #12 (2021), he combines everyday materials and found objects, many collected along his childhood immigration route, into a large-scale assemblage resembling a throne or shrine that can be activated—in accordance with the artist’s instructions—for healing performances.
  • Wangechi Mutu investigates power and interconnectedness, often through the female form. The first work by the Kenyan-born American artist to enter the Hirshhorn collection, Sentinel VI (2022), presents an imposing humanoid sculpture built up from layers of red soil and paper pulp adorned with beads, shells, and brass ornaments.
  • Nam June Paik was a Korean American artist highly prescient regarding the directions that technology would take—anticipating phenomena such as the Internet, digital education, Google Glass—and his work laid the groundwork for the proliferation of new media in art today. Bakelite Robot(2002) points to the contemporary entanglement of the human and the technological.
  • Buenos Aires–born, New York–based artist Liliana Porter is among the most important Latin American artists of her generation, known especially for her conceptual photographs and prints of the 1960s and ’70s. The Riddle (2019), a standout example of Porter’s recent video work featuring toys, attests to her ability to evoke empathy through inanimate objects.
  • Exploring the relationship between drawing and world-building, Toyin Ojih Odutola uses materials including pastel, charcoal and chalk to communicate elaborate fictional narratives. Her work Introductions: Early Embodiment (Koba) (2019) was on view at the Hirshhorn in 2020 as part of her monumental series A Countervailing Theory, 40 large-scale drawings that imagine a prehistoric civilization ruled by female warriors on Nigeria’s Jos Plateau.

Artists whose works were also acquired by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden between November 2022 and May 2023 include:

Pacita Abad
Dawoud Bey
Amoako Boafo
Henri Cartier-Bresson
Dominic Chambers
Donna Conlon and Jonathan Harker
Woody De Othello
Torkwase Dyson
Derek Fordjour
Sayre Gomez
Rachel Harrison
Nancy Lee Katz
Esther Mahlangu
Andy Mann
Eddie Martinez
Dindga McCannon
Rebecca Morris
Robert Nava
Maria Nepomuceno
Tony Oursler
Roxy Paine
Man Ray
Matt Saunders
Arthur Simms
Avery Singer
Hedda Sterne
Kunié Sugiura
Genesis Tramaine
Lesley Vance
Wang Jin
Dyani White Hawk
Flora Yukhnovich
Monsieur Zohore

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all. The Hirshhorn Museum is open daily, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. (except Dec. 25). For more information, visit Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Image credits: Cindy Sherman, Untitled (Secretary) (1978, printed 1993). Gelatin silver photograph. 11 7/8 × 8 15/6 in. (35.2 × 27.9 cm). Gift of the Honorable Tom Udall and Jill Cooper Udall, in honor of the Hirshhorn’s 50th anniversary, 2023. Photo: Rick Coulby. (left); Nam June Paik, TV Cello (2005). Plexiglass, permanent oil marker, three LCD monitors, and single-channel video. 21 ½ × 64 ½ × 23 in. (54.6 × 163.8 × 58.4 cm). Gift of the Hakuta Family, 2023. Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Photo: Rick Coulby. (center); Derek Fourjour, Birdman(2022); Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, oil pastel and foil on newspaper mounted on canvas 87 ¾ × 67 ½ in. (222.9 × 171.5 cm). Gift of Iris and Adam Singer, 2023. Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Photo: Rick Coulby. (right).