ST. PETERSBURG – The Museum of Fine Arts of Saint Petersburg major renovation of their permanent collection galleries last fall the museum felt like a new place.

Today, thanks to a year-long collaboration, four paintings from the Art Bridges Collection by famous 20th-century American artists are on display in the museum’s modern and post-war galleries.

The works of Jacob Lawrence, Hughie Lee-Smith, Norman Wilfred Lewis and Lee Krasner will remain on display until February 2022. A fifth painting by Marsden Hartley will arrive in June and will remain on view until August 2022.

The loans extend the museum’s inclusiveness with works by black, female and LGBTQ artists.

“Because we have such a commitment to acquiring and presenting work by traditionally underrepresented artists, I think Art Bridges was really excited to help us move forward in this vein,” said Kristen Shepherd. , Executive Director and CEO of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Art Bridges is a non-profit arts foundation created by Walmart heiress Alice Walton. It seeks to expand access to American works of art by acquiring works from the colonial era to the present day and makes them available as loans for institutions across the country.

“It’s incredibly generous because it gives small museums the opportunity to showcase masterpieces,” Shepherd said. “Being able to share them with the community is a huge gift. “

Here are the five works:

Jacob Laurent, At the heart of the black belt (Photo at the top of this story)

Considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Lawrence is also one of the first nationally recognized black artists. This 1947 painting was part of a series exploring the lives of Southern Blacks, commissioned as illustrations for Forbes magazine.

Norman Wilfred Lewis, Untitled (Metro station)

Norman Wilfred Lewis, américain, 1909-1979, “Sans titre, (Station de métro)”, 1945, huile et sable sur toile, Art Bridges, succession de Norman W. Lewis, avec l’aimable autorisation de Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York. Le tableau est prêté au Musée des beaux-arts de Saint-Pétersbourg grâce à un partenariat avec Art Bridges. [ Courtesy of Art Bridges ]

Lewis was known to portray racism and social injustice. He eventually turned to abstraction, making him the only black artist associated with the first generation of Abstract Expressionism. This 1945 transitional work bridges his earlier style of social realism and modern abstraction.

Hughie Lee Smith, The walls

Hughie Lee-Smith, American, 1915-1999,
Hughie Lee-Smith, American, 1915-1999, “The Walls”, 1954, oil on panel, Art Bridges. The painting is on loan to the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts through a partnership with Art Bridges. [ Courtesy of Art Bridges ]

Lee-Smith explored the inequalities of racism, themes of isolation and alienation, and the hope for positive change, referred to in the balloons in this 1954 painting.

Lee Krasner, Echo

Lee Krasner, American, 1908-1984, Re-Echo, 1957, oil on canvas, Art Bridges.  Photo courtesy of Sotheby's, Inc. © 2020. It is on loan to the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts until February 2020.
Lee Krasner, American, 1908-1984, Re-Echo, 1957, oil on canvas, Art Bridges. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s, Inc. © 2020. It is on loan to the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts until February 2020. [ Courtesy of Art Bridges ]

Krasner was an abstract expressionist and the wife of Jackson Pollack. This 1957 59 ″ x 58 ″ piece was part of the series of 17 “Earth Green” paintings, which reflects an artistic transformation based on Pollack’s death. Katherine Pill, the museum’s curator of contemporary art, said the piece was a reminder that “the male-dominated narrative of Abstract Expressionism is yet to be crucially developed.”

Marsden Hartley, Give us this day (coming in June)

Marsden Hartley, American, 1877-1943, Give Us This Day, 1938, oil on canvas, Art Bridges.  It will be on loan to the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts from June 2021 to August 2022.
Marsden Hartley, American, 1877-1943, Give Us This Day, 1938, oil on canvas, Art Bridges. It will be on loan to the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts from June 2021 to August 2022. [ Courtesy of Art Bridges ]

Hartley is considered crucial for the development of modern American art. His presence at the museum will lead to a dialogue on the struggle of LGBTQ artists to exist and create in a discriminatory world. This 1938 painting depicts a landscape of Maine that includes Christian images.

The works have been placed to showcase other works of art in the galleries. Krasner’s work draws attention to two other post-war women artists, painter Perle Fine and sculptor Dorothy Dehner.

An example of Norman Lewis’ later abstract work can also be found in this gallery.

The MFA has prints by Krasner, Lawrence, Lee-Smith and Lewis in its own collection, but these are light-sensitive works on paper that cannot be exhibited permanently.

It is worth noting that the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts is the first museum to have both Krasner Echo and Laurent’s At the heart of the black belt featured in the Art Bridges collection.

The lineup for the new plays will be announced shortly.

If you are going to

The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. Tickets must be booked online at mfastpete.org for a timed entry in accordance with the museum’s COVID-19 security measures. $ 20; $ 15 seniors / serving military / Florida educators / college students; $ 10 children aged 7 to 17; free for children 6 and under and members. 10 am-5pm Tuesday to Wednesday; noon-8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 10 am-5pm Saturday; Sunday noon-5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 896-2667.