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Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) Updates Contemporary and European Galleries with Works by Baltimore Region Artists and Major Loans

BALTIMORE, MD – The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) announced some important changes and additions to several of its collection galleries. The BMA’s contemporary wing has been updated with a new selection of works by contemporary artists with ties to Baltimore and Washington, DC, continuing the museum’s commitment to featuring the work of local and regional artists as an essential part of its mission. The European art galleries have also been newly enlivened with extraordinary historic French and Dutch paintings on loan from acclaimed private collections, including two masterpieces by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. These changes reflect the BMA’s vision to continuously enhance and reimagine presentations of its collection to capture a depth of artistic expression and excellence, across time and into the present moment.

Since fall 2021, the BMA has presented rotations of the contemporary collection under the umbrella title How Do We Know the World?, with approximately half of the works changing every six months. The latest iteration of the front room gallery, now on view, continues to highlight the dynamism and experimentation of Baltimore and Washington, DC-area artists with paintings, photographs, prints, video, and mixed-media works by Maren Hassinger, Emmanuel Massillon, linn meyers, Tom Miller, Devin N. Morris, Zéh Palito, Jo Smail, and SHAN Wallace. The BMA’s Black Box Gallery screens A Black Girl’s Country (2019) by Baltimore-based director and spoken word artist NIA JUNE with cinematographer Kirby Griffin, and creative director and musician APoetNamedNate. This four-minute, 24-second video uses poetry, music, and dance to celebrate the multifaceted experiences of 50 Black women and girls across generations in Baltimore. Also on view in adjacent galleries are works by Grace Hartigan, Valerie Maynard, and artists affiliated with the legacy of The Washington Color School: Timothy Corkery, Sam Gilliam, Alma W. Thomas and Anne Truitt.

The central gallery of the BMA’s European art collection has been transformed by the loan of two magnificent works by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732-1806). Portrait of a Singer and The Actor (both c. 1769) show the artist at the height of his creative powers with two portraits from his series of fantasy figure paintings (14 of which are known). Fragonard drew on his circle of friends and associates for models and lavishly—and somewhat daringly—depicted them in an old-fashioned Spanish style of costume captured with painterly bravura. The paintings belong to descendants of the celebrated Rothschild banking family and were among those seized in 1938 following the Anschluss, or annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany. The last time they were publicly shown together was in 2017 at the National Gallery in Washington, DC.

An adjacent gallery features three paintings on loan from The Leiden Collection in New York that focuses on 17th-century Dutch women as subjects, patrons, and artists.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Portrait of a Singer c 1769. Private collection.

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