Philbrook Museum of Art will feature an exhibition of 70 masterpieces by some of the most influential American painters of the 20th century Dec. 20, 2009 through Jan. 31, 2010. Among these are the Taos Society of Artists, Maynard Dixon, Nicolai Fechin, Leon Gaspard, and others whose work has shaped our vision of the American Southwest. In addition to these stunning paintings, the show offers a unique behind-the-scenes look at the Adkins Collection.
Over a period of more than forty years, Eugene Brady Adkins (1920-2006) amassed a large and important collection of Southwestern art. From baskets, jewelry, pottery, and weavings by Native American artists, to more than 800 paintings, prints, drawings, and photographs focused on images of the American West.
Adkins’ love of the Southwest developed at an early age; as a child in the 1920s and ‘30s, his family often drove from eastern Oklahoma to the pueblos of northern New Mexico and beyond. During such trips, he acquired an appreciation for the natural and cultural landscape of the area, taking in the drama of the mesas at sunset and the beauty of Native American dances and ceremonies. These early experiences led to Adkins’ lifelong passion for Southwestern art and spurred his collecting.
The history of the collection and episodes pertaining to particular pieces are revealed through correspondence, exhibit brochures, and other materials. Mr. Adkins kept letters on which he would write notes to himself, creating an ongoing conversation about individual pieces and the collection as a whole.
In all, the Adkins material includes not only outstanding paintings and other artwork, but also invaluable records of a unique and important collection that was created by a Tulsa native.
The Eugene B. Adkins Collection is jointly housed and managed by the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla.