Jacksonville's contemporary art collection

MOCA Jacksonville primarily collects work from 1960 to the present.

The Museum’s permanent collection currently consists of nearly 1,000 works of art, including painting, printmaking, sculpture, and photography. Artists represented in the collection include Hans Hofmann, Alexander Calder, Alex Katz, Robert Longo, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Rauschenberg, Paul Jenkins, Jules Olitski, Philip Pearlstein, Jim Dine, James Rosenquist, and Joan Mitchell. MOCA Jacksonville endeavors to create a Permanent Collection of significant depth, scope, and quality to be used for study, scholarly research, and exhibition—all tools that foster an education, awareness and experience with contemporary visual art.

History of the Permanent Collection

1960s to 1970s

After nearly twenty years in the Fleming Mansion on Riverside Avenue, the Jacksonville Art Museum (JAM) moved to the Koger Center. The new location allowed the Museum to grow its Permanent Collection and reputation. During this time, the Museum's focus was primarily based on the Koger Collection, which comprised Chinese antiquities. In addition to the Koger Collection, the Museum had significant holdings of Pre-Columbian works.

1970s to 1980s

Primarily under the tenure of Director Bruce Dempsey, the Permanent Collection experienced significant growth. While the focus of the Museum was still chronologically broad, Dempsey made many noteworthy acquisitions valuable to the current mission (1960s to present). Dempsey fostered donations by creating the Collectors' Club, which met informally at the home of Dr. Anwar Kamal. This group of collectors would purchase directly for the Museum’s collection and became quite invested in the development of the contemporary focus of the collection. In addition to these individual donations, a series of large bodies of work were acquired, including the Norman E. Fisher Collection, Larry Clark’s Tulsa, the estate of Memphis Wood, and the Alexander Calder sculpture and gouache paintings on paper. In addition to these acquisitions, Dempsey formed interesting relationships with print houses to expand the print collection. Such acquisitions include works by Richard Anuszkiewicz and Robert Zakanitch from Julio Juristo’s Topaz Editions, in Tampa, Florida, and works by Robert Rauschenberg from Graphicstudio at the University of South Florida.

1990s to Present

Beginning in the late 1990s, the Museum began another transition to its current location in downtown Jacksonville. From approximately 1999 to early 2003, the Museum did not have a facility and as a result did not acquire any works. In 2003, the Museum opened in its current location at 333 North Laura Street as the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art (JMOMA) but changed its name to the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA) shortly thereafter to better reflect the Permanent Collection. The most significant collection growth during this period was under the guidance of Director and Chief Curator George Kinghorn. Some notable acquisitions include a partial gift of four paintings from the city of Jacksonville, including Joan Mitchell’s IVA; numerous significant works from Jacksonville collector and philanthropist Preston H. Haskell, including works by Helen Frankenthaler, Paul Jenkins, James Rosenquist, and Jules Olitski; and a major donation of ninety-eight works from the collection of Donald and Maria Cox, including objects by Jake Berthot, Ilya Bolotowsky, and Hans Hofmann.

Media

Painting

The collection contains a number of significant examples of Gestural Abstraction, including works by Joan Mitchell, Hans Hofmann (oil on paper), Theodore Stamos, and Syd Solomon. Influences of this prior generation can be seen in more recent gestural examples by the artists Paul Jenkins, James Bohary, Pat Steir, and most recently Yolanda Sanchez. In addition to Gestural Abstraction, the collection also contains a number of good representations of Post-Painterly Abstraction, both in terms of color field painters such as Jules Olitski, Sam Gilliam, Leon Berkowitz, and Robin Rose, as well as more hard-edge examples from Robert Moorehead and Paul Reed. Beyond mid-twentieth century Abstraction, the next most cohesive grouping of work is in the developing area of late-twentieth century realism and narrative-based painting. The most significant and representative example can be seen in the work of Philip Pearlstein. In addition, works by Peter Plamondon, Mark Messersmith, Arnold Mesches, Deborah Brown, Ronna Harris, and recent acquisitions of works by Jenny Morgan and Kevin Peterson can also be considered in this category. The collection contains examples of particular approaches, some worth noting are Richard Anuszkiewicz (Op Art), Ed Paschke (Chicago Imagist), Richard Zakanitch (Pattern and Decoration), and Hunt Slonem (Neo-Expressionism).

Sculpture

The sculpture collection includes works by Carol Brown, Alexander Calder, Manierre Dawson, Edouard Duval-Carrie, Nancy Graves, Juan Hamilton, Mel Kendrick, Clyde Lynds, Claes Oldenburg, Beverly Pepper, Arnoldo Pomodoro, and Jesus Rafael Soto. Alexander Calder’s mobile is the most significant object in the sculpture collection and one of the top five pieces within the Permanent Collection overall.

Works on Paper (Prints and Drawings)

Highlights of some of the major artists included in this area of the collection are Vito Acconci, Richard Anuszkiewicz, John Chamberlain, Jim Dine, Eric Fischl, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, Alex Katz, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Longo, Malcolm Morley, Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson, Claes Oldenburg, Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Larry Rivers, James Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella, William T. Wiley, and Robert Zakanitch.

EPHEMERA, TIME-BASED (VIDEO), MIXED MEDIA, ARTIST BOOKS

MOCA Jacksonville’s Norman E. Fisher Collection includes almost 200 objects. A Jacksonville native, Fisher became an important figure in the New York Art scene, amassing a collection of hundreds of works by more than fifty American artists from the late 1960s and 1970s. He worked for Ryder Truck Lines in Jacksonville, then moved to New York in 1967, where he took a job in the trust department at the Chase Manhattan Bank and attended New York University. Fisher’s career in the art world may be dated to a meeting in spring 1969 where Michael Kern of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, introduced him to Richard “Dickie” Landry and Tina Girouard, who were then living in Chatham Square in New York. It is from roughly this point on that Fisher’s connection to the New York art scene deepened.

During his time in New York, Fisher established a salon in his penthouse apartment, fittingly called Norman’s, where he displayed the work of artists he collected: Vito Acconci, Diego Cortez, Jimmy DeSana, Peter Downsborough, Tina Girouard, Philip Glass, Richard “Dickie” Landry, Jeffrey Lew, Suzanne Harris, Joseph Kosuth, Christopher Makos, Gerard Malanga, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mary Heilmann, Gordon Matta-Clark, Claes Oldenburg, Lawrence Weiner, and Keith Sonnier. Many of the artists he fostered were up-and-coming conceptual or performance artists. Fisher’s close relationships can be seen in the personalized gifts and the generally smaller scale of the works his artist friends endowed to him. Pieces in the NEF collection include photos of works in progress, fully realized two- and three-dimensional artworks, drawings, signed manuscripts, musical scores, screenplays, first editions of Alan Ginsberg and William Burroughs books, and intimate portraits of the collector himself. 

Photography

Without a doubt, the most significant comprehensive set of images is that of Larry Clark’s Tulsa, with fifty photographs representing the entire project. The photographic portion of the Norman E. Fisher Collection contains many artists who shaped the New York art scene and photography in the 1970s, including Jimmy DeSana, Richard “Dickie” Landry, Christopher Makos, Gerard Malanga, Robert Mapplethorpe, and William Wegman. In addition to the work by Mapplethorpe included in the Fisher Collection, the Museum also owns his Y portfolio, which is utilized frequently in the exhibition and educational program. The Museum also has a number of works by Jerry Uelsmann, who could be considered of both regional and national importance and whose works are utilized frequently. MOCA Jacksonville has made significant strides in collecting photographic works from its self-curated exhibitions, including works by Francie Bishop-Good, David Hilliard, Melanie Pullen, and Angela Strassheim. 

Multimedia

Hello There

Staff Profile Jaime DeSimone

Jaime DeSimone

Curator

With over ten years of curatorial and exhibition experience in contemporary art, Curator Jaime DeSimone conceives and implements the exhibition program and manages the Permanent Collection. At MOCA Jacksonville, DeSimone has curated Project Atrium: Shinique Smith and Confronting the Canvas: Women of Abstraction, the first museum show to focus on contemporary female abstract painters. She was previously the exhibitions project coordinator at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, where she managed a portfolio of exhibitions, including Calder and Abstraction and FreePort No. 008: Celeste Boursier-Mougenot. From 2005 to 2012, DeSimone served as the assistant curator at the Addison Gallery of American Art, located on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where she curated a number of exhibitions, including Flash Back: November 23, 1963 (2013), The Civil War: Unfolding Dialogues (2011), and Kara Walker: Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) (2008). She holds a master's degree in American contemporary art from American University (2005) and a bachelor's degree in art history from Bates College (2001).

Image courtesy of Thomas Hager.