New at the McNay
By Lori Moffatt
Since 1954, when the Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute (now the McNay Art Museum) opened in an elaborately tiled Spanish Colonial Revival mansion a few miles north of downtown San Antonio, art-lovers have relished the opportunity to view the works collected by one of Texas’ most influential philanthropists, the late Marion Koogler McNay. Beginning in the 1920s, McNay collected modern art—pieces by Gauguin, van Gogh, Cassatt, Matisse, and others—before these artists’ works became widely popular, and thus amassed a collection that was cutting-edge then and seems preternaturally foresighted now.
On June 7, the McNay Art Museum hosts a weekend-long celebration of its new Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions, a sleek, low-slung, light-filled building designed by European urbanist Jean-Paul Viguier, whose contemporary aesthetic is responsible for some of the most stunning aspects of modern-day Paris. The Stieren Center nearly doubles the museum’s size. Outside, a new sculpture garden, set off by gray-green stone walls, offers surprise glimpses of the McNay’s art and architecture, and unites exterior and interior spaces.
The center’s inaugural exhibition, American Art Since 1945: In a New Light (June 7-August 24), marks the first time the McNay has been able to showcase the extent of its contemporary artworks. With more than 100 paintings, sculptures, and photographs on view, American Art Since 1945 picks up chronologically where Marion Koogler McNay’s collection left off. “Although she did not live to see the experimentation of the second half of the 20th Century,” says William J. Chiego, director of the McNay, “I believe she would appreciate and admire this exhibition, particularly in light of her preference for bold forms, strong color, and evidence of the artist’s touch.” Call 210/824-5368; www.mcnayart.org.
From the June 2008 issue.