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Highlights from the Collection

The DePaul Art Museum collection has grown substantially since 1972 when the University’s Women’s Board initiated an “Art for DePaul Drive” to celebrate the University’s 75th anniversary. Over 67 etchings, watercolors, drawings and paintings began the collection which is now comprised of nearly 3,000 artworks. With a range of media including painting, drawing, prints, photography, and sculpture, the earliest work in the collection is a 16th century painting of the Madonna and Child and the most recent is a painting from 2016.

The collection is eclectic, yet international in scope, with work from North America, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and Asia, primarily from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. DPAM collection strengths include works on paper, photography, textiles, and African sculpture as well as Latin American artists and Chicago-based artists, and politically-oriented artwork that embodies the university’s mission of social justice.

DPAM seeks to reflect the history of art in Chicago as a global city in dialogue with artwork from around the world. Through this collection, the museum will be a center for research for current and future scholars. Collection works are available for viewing in our state of the art study room by appointment only.

African Art:

DePaul Art Museum has an expansive collection of 19th and 20th century African Art with particular strengths in sculpture from West and Central Africa. The over two hundred pieces in DPAM’s permanent collection include a selection of carved wooden masks, ceremonial and ritualistic objects, and sculptures representing over fifty ethnic groups, with a notable collection of Yoruba Ijebi (Twin) Figures and Eritrean processional crosses. Other highlights of DPAM’s African art collection include ceremonial headdresses and masks from Nigeria and the Republic of Congo, rich textiles from Ghana, and ornate beaded jewelry from South Africa.

Polish Posters:

Between 2000 and 2006, DePaul Art Museum received nearly 300 Polish film posters from Martin and Patricia Rosenberg, collectors of the largest and most comprehensive collection of Polish posters in the world. During the mid-20th century, Polish artists utilized lithograph posters as a way to express artistic freedom in Communist Poland. The DPAM collection contains highlights from the Golden Age of Polish posters, showcasing a wide range of film and theatre posters from the 1920s to the 1980s by well-known Polish poster artists such as Wiktor Górka, Jan Młodożeniec, and Waldemar Świerzy.

Institute of Design Photography:

The Chicago Institute of Design (ID) began as the “New Bauhaus” in 1937 and carried over the ideals of the German Bauhaus under the direction of artist László Moholy-Nagy. The focus on design and innovation turned the ID into one of the most sought-after photography programs in the country that encouraged their students to experiment. The Institute of Design is now a part of the Illinois Institute of Design. The DPAM collection includes deep holdings from ID alumni Harold Allen, Harry Callahan, Alan Cohen, Barbara Crane, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Joseph Jachna, Kenneth Josephson, László Moholy-Nagy, Arthur Siegal, Aaron Siskin, Joseph Sterling, and Edmund Teske.

Architectural Drawings:

The DePaul Art Museum collection includes more than fifty architectural drawings from the early 20th century firm, D.H. Burnham Co., also known as the Burnham Brothers. The company was founded by the sons of famous Chicago architect Daniel H. Burnham, Daniel H. Burnham, Jr. and Hubert Burnham. The DPAM collection includes floor plans and elevation sketches of the Engineering Building located on Wacker Dr. and terracotta façade design sketches for the Carbide and Carbon Building, located on Michigan Ave. The DPAM holdings include noteworthy architectural engravings by 18th century engraver, Giovanni Battista Piranesi. After studying architecture, Piranesi found great success as an engraver. The engravings in DPAM’s collection are a part of Piranesi’s Vedute (Views) series created between 1748 and 1774, and showcase detailed depictions of architecture from around Rome.

Art from Latin America:

The collection includes a wide array of work by Latin American artists, including an exceptional collection of 19th and early 20th century photography by artists such as Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Robert Hernandez, and Martín Chambi. The photographs included in the collection capture historical impressions of Latin America, such as a photograph of the Zapatista Riots in Mexico and a photograph of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. The collection also includes etchings, paintings, and mixed media works by Latin American artists from the 1930s to 2016 that capture the political and social climates of their time. These works include many artists such as Dianna Frid, Nicolás DeJesus, Luis Jiménez, and José Bedia who have strong ties to Chicago.

Chicago Imagists:

The Chicago Imagists exhibited at the Hyde Park Art Center in the 1960s and 70s and were known for their figurative and sometimes grotesque images. Members of the Monster Roster, such as Don Baum, Cosmo Campoli, George Cohen, Leon Golub, Irving Petlin, and June Leaf, and the Hairy Who, including Karl Wirsum and Gladys Nilsson, are widely represented within the collection, along with other notable Imagists such as Barbara Rossi, Ray Yoshida, and Ed Paschke.

WPA Printmaking/Needles Collection:

Between 2012 and 2015, DPAM received a collection of more than 100 WPA-era prints from Belverd and Marian Needles. The Works Progress Administration founded the Federal Projects Number One, which funded relief for artists during the Depression and employed artists to create works, ranging from murals to fine art. The prints created during the 1930s and 1940s captured the political climate and a world at war through a distinct lens. The DPAM collection includes prints by WPA artists such as Edward Arthur Wilson, Harry Sternberg, Millard Owen Sheets, Fletcher Martin, and Eleanor Coen.

Thurow Collection of Chicago Art:

In 2016, DPAM received a gift of 114 works by contemporary Chicago artists from Chicago collector, Chuck Thurow. The collection dates from the 1960s to 2014 and includes photographs, paintings, sculptures and works on paper that illustrate the breadth of Chicago’s artistic community. The gift is composed of 59 artists with ties to Chicago, including Nick Cave, Theaster Gates, Paul Sierra, Oli Watt, Max Cap King, Nicolás DeJesus, Michael Hernandez de Luna, Linda Kramer, Phyllis Bramson, and Candida Alvarez.