The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Announces Partnership with the Sarofim Foundation

Agreement will place masterworks from the late Houston philanthropist’s distinguished collection on long-term loan to the MFAH

A selection of American art, European painting, and antiquities will be displayed across the Museum’s gallery buildings, beginning in 2023

HOUSTON—NOVEMBER 21, 2022—One hundred twenty-five masterworks from the distinguished collection of the late Houston philanthropist Fayez S. Sarofim will be placed on extended loan to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, beginning in early 2023, in a collaboration between the museum and the Sarofim Foundation.

Fayez S. Sarofim, who died in May 2022, quietly assembled over nearly 60 years one of the most significant collections of American art in private hands, as well as important works of European painting and antiquities. The loan will enhance the museum’s presentations of American and European art in those newly reinstalled galleries, and of modern and contemporary art in the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, dedicated to the permanent collection and opened in 2020.

“All of us at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, are deeply indebted to the Sarofim family for the extraordinary privilege of sharing these remarkable works with the community to which Fayez Sarofim has shown such devotion and generosity,” said Gary Tinterow, Director, the Margaret Alkek Williams Chair, MFAH. “In its scope, scale, and quality, this collection is in rarefied company. It bears comparison with the great collections assembled by William Corcoran in the 19th century, Joseph Hirshhorn in the 20th century, and, more recently, Alice Walton.” 

“My father wanted nothing more than to share his collection with the public after he could no longer enjoy it,” said Christopher Sarofim. “It is my honor to announce that he left the entire collection to the Sarofim Foundation, with this intention. There could be no more fitting partner than the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which will install works throughout their galleries, care for the collection, and manage access for major exhibitions around the world.”

The American paintings and sculptures in this remarkable collection reflect key passages in the evolution of American art:

19th- and early-20th-century paintings that chronicle the emergence of a distinctly American sensibility in portraiture and landscape from the earliest years of American independence through American Impressionism and the Ashcan School, including works by Mary Cassatt, Frederic Edwin Church, John Singleton Copley, Childe Hassam, Robert Henri, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and an extensive selection of 11 works by John Singer Sargent.

Significant examples of early American Modernism, among them paintings by Stuart Davis, Burgoyne Diller, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

An expansive survey of 20th-century modern and contemporary art, with works by Alexander Calder, Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, and David Smith.

In addition to these American masterworks, over the years Sarofim collected in several other areas of special focus: the work of international artists who defined the path of 20th-century Modernism, including Henry Moore and Joaquín Torres-García; Old Masters, including Lucas Cranach and El Greco; Navajo wearing blankets and Pueblo pottery; and antiquities from Egypt.

About the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Spanning 14 acres in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, the Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim campus of the MFAH comprises the Audrey Jones Beck Building, the Caroline Wiess Law Building, the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, and the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building. Nearby, two house museums—Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, and Rienzi—present collections of American and European decorative arts.

The MFAH is also home to the Glassell School of Art, with its Core Residency Program and Junior and Studio schools; and the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), a leading research institute for 20th-century Latin American and Latino art. Additional resources include a repertory cinema; two significant research libraries: the Hirsch Library and the Powell Library and Study Center at Bayou Bend; public archives; a conservation studio; and an off-site storage facility.

The MFAH collections include in-depth holdings of Pre-Columbian and African gold, American art, European paintings, and distinguished international collections of modern and contemporary art. Particular strengths are in postwar American painting; postwar Latin American art, with a focus on Concrete and Constructive art from Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela, as well as contemporary photo-based work and large-scale installations; international photography, with notable concentrations in Japanese, Latin American, and Central European photography as well as American and Western European; prints and drawings, including the entire 1980–1994 archive portfolio of Peter Blum Editions; and international decorative arts, craft, and design, in particular contemporary.

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