While The Maslow Collection, in its entirety, is comprised of about 600 works by 150 different artists, “Forming the Maslow Collection: A Reflection on the New York City Art Scene in the 80s and 90s” contained less than 40 works in total. Nevertheless, this exhibition provided visitors with the opportunity to spend time with a host of high caliber work from artists like Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Julian Schnabel, Francesco Clemente, Ellsworth Kelly, Berenice Abbott, Sol LeWitt, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Frank Stella, Sandy Skoglund, Peter Halley, Melissa Meyer, Katherine Porter, Gary Lang, and others. This exhibition also highlighted one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Andy Warhol. Warhol’s work acts as a kind of centerpiece in the current exhibition “Forming The Maslow Collection” at the Everhart Museum. His “Campbell’s Soup Can” screenprints “Onion,” “Black Bean,” and “Pepper Pot” are works that other pieces seem to rotate around. At the hand of Warhol, these meager soup cans were transformed into cultural icons, and now have become some of the most recognizable images of the Modern Art era.
To showcase the breadth of The Maslow Collection while still maintaining order, Francesca Saldan, the Everhart Curator, and I organized the works into four categories: Abstraction, Pop Art, Neo-Expressionism, and Minimalism/ Conceptualism/Documentary Photography. This cross section arrangement allows the viewer to see just how varied the modes of art making were in New York City in the 1980s and 90s, which is where and when the Maslow family formed their collection. The exhibition layout also aims to touch upon the geographic, social, political, and economic context of New York City during these two decades. Personal correspondences between the Maslows, dealers, and artists are featured in the exhibit display case, as well as maps of the SoHo gallery neighborhood, and handwritten notes on exhibition visits made at the time.
This archival material, as well as adjoining wall text, highlights the liveliness and diversity of the 80s and 90s New York art scene, and also underscores the importance of fostering relationships between collectors, dealers, and artists when establishing a major collection of this kind. We are incredibly fortunate to have access to this amazing Modern and Contemporary Art resource here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. As new exhibitions are presented, so too are new insights into the artists, artworks, and collectors behind The Maslow Collection. From Warhol to Stella to Abbott to Johns to Porter to Meyer and to Kelly, this exhibition serves as a reminder of how truly impressive this Collection is.
Written by Ryan Ward, curator of The Maslow Collection and co-curator of “Forming the Maslow Collection: A Reflection on the New York Art Scene in the 80s and 90s”