MFAH presents “Three Centuries of American Art – Antiquities, European and American Masterpieces from The Fayez S. Sarofim Collection,” opening in June

The Houston collector and philanthropist loans his collection for the first time, in this exclusive presentation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

HOUSTON—April 12, 2021—For nearly 60 years, Houston collector and philanthropist Fayez S. Sarofim has quietly assembled one of the most significant collections of American art in private hands. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will provide an exceptional opportunity to view the masterpieces this summer in the exclusive presentation Three Centuries of American Art – Antiquities, European and American Masterpieces from The Fayez S. Sarofim Collection. The exhibition will be on display across the Museum’s Upper Brown Pavilion from June 27 through September 6, 2021.

“Fayez Sarofim is widely known for his philanthropic leadership in Houston. Much less known, and revealed in this exhibition, is his abiding fascination with the art and culture of his adopted American homeland,” said Gary Tinterow, Director, the Margaret Alkek Williams Chair, MFAH. “In its scope, scale, and quality, his timeless collection—one that also includes significant objects from antiquity to reflect his Egyptian heritage—places Fayez in rarefied company. It calls to mind the broad visions of William Corcoran in the 19th century, Joseph Hirshhorn in the 20th century, and, more recently, Alice Walton.”

The American paintings and sculptures in the collection reflect key passages in the evolution of American art. Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • 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 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 has collected in several other areas of special focus: the work of international artists who defined the path of 20th-century Abstraction, including Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, and Joaquín Torres-García; Old Masters, including Lucas Cranach and El Greco; Navajo wearing blankets and Pueblo pottery; and antiquities from Egypt. Selected objects from these areas will also be on view.

A fully illustrated catalogue, Masterpieces from the Fayez S. Sarofim Collection: From Antiquity to Abstraction, written by the Museum’s curatorial staff with an introduction by Gary Tinterow, accompanies the exhibition.

Organization and Funding
This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Lead Corporate Sponsor:

Generous funding provided by:
Gail and Louis Adler
Nancy and Rich Kinder
Ellen and Charles Sheedy
Vivian L. Smith Foundation

About the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Established in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the 10 largest art museums in the United States, with an encyclopedic collection of nearly 70,000 works dating from antiquity to the present. The Museum’s Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim main campus comprises the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, designed by Steven Holl Architects and opened in 2020; the Audrey Jones Beck Building, designed by Rafael Moneo and opened in 2000; the Caroline Wiess Law Building, originally designed by William Ward Watkin, with extensions by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe completed in 1958 and 1974; the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, designed by Isamu Noguchi and opened in 1986; the Glassell School of Art, designed by Steven Holl Architects and opened in 2018; and The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza, designed by Deborah Nevins & Associates and opened in 2018. Additional spaces include a repertory cinema, two libraries, public archives, and facilities for conservation and storage. Nearby, two house museums—Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, and Rienzi—present American and European decorative arts, respectively. The MFAH is also home to the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), a leading research institute for 20th-century Latin American and Latino art.

Media Contact
Katie Jernigan, senior publicist | 713.639.7516