Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Warner Name Now Graces Art Gallery in New York

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Warner Name Now Graces Art Gallery in New York

Article excerpt

The name Jack Warner has been renowned among art lovers for decades as he championed American art and artists during periods when they were out of fashion.

The name recognition is likely to rise even higher now that it will be seen by the millions who visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Thanks to a generous gift from The Warner Foundation, a room of early Hudson River School paintings has been designated the Jack and Susan Warner Gallery in the recently renovated New American Wing at the Met.

Warner's name came up early during the 10-year project of re- imagining and rebuilding the collection, said Elizabeth Kornhauser, senior curator of American painting at the Met.

"We re-interpreted the collection with a strong storyline," she said. "We were able to weave the story of American art with the story of American history, starting from the colonial period, through the very big story of the Hudson River School, which lasted through much of a century, and through to the early modern Ashcan School.

"All of us in the field know Jack as a pioneering collector in American art. In many ways, the story we tell was mirrored in Jack's collection. So his name certainly was on our minds when we were thinking about this. The Jack and Susan Warner Gallery gives him an international presence, really."

As one of the world's largest museums, the Met sees more than 5 million visitors annually, with more than 2 million works divided into 19 curatorial departments covering more than 2 million square feet.

As CEO and chairman of the former Gulf States Paper Corp. in Tuscaloosa, now the Westervelt Co., Warner collected more than 700 pieces of painting, furniture, sculpture and decorative work by American masters, including Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, Frederic E. Church, Winslow Homer, James Peale, Paul Revere and Duncan Phyfe. He collected some pieces personally, but most were purchased with funds from Gulf States. Many of the collection's significant pieces were sold by Westervelt in 2011 to take advantage of a limited-time tax break, including Asher B. Durand's "Progress (The Advance of Civilization), Cole's "The Falls of Kaaterskill" and Daniel Garber's "Tanis."

Before the sales -- the Westervelt Co. has many of the remaining pieces on display at its corporate headquarters, in the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art -- Warner's lifetime work was considered by many to be the greatest privately held collection of American art in the world.

"He played a very important role in acquiring works by the Hudson River School back when they had fallen out of favor," Kornhauser said. …

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