In the Mind of a Collector

Franco Audrito for Studio 65, Bocca Sofa, 1971, Stretch jersey fabric over polyurethane foam, 36 x 83 x 32 inches. Made by Gufram, Barolo, Italy. Oklahoma State University Museum of Art, George R. Kravis II Collection, 2018.016.135. Photo courtesy of Wright.

On view at the OSU Museum of Art January 14 – July 18, 2020

Story by Kristen Duncan, OSU Museum of Art

A unique exhibition, In the Mind of a Collector, will open January 14, 2020. This exhibition will delve into the methods of a collector and the relationship that exists between people and their possessions. George R. Kravis II , who passed away in 2018, gifted the OSU Museum of Art with more than 700 pieces, improving the permanent collection in modern, contemporary, and industrial design from his collection. 

In the Mind of a Collector will feature a wide selection of Abstract Expressionist paintings, Pop Art and industrial design objects. Selections range from the colorful, energized brushstrokes of Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann to the comic book inspired Pop Art of Roy Lichtenstein and from a 1950s Frank Lloyd Wright chair to Streamline Style radios from the 1930s and 1940s.

In 1949, at the early age of 11, Kravis began his collection by purchasing an RCA Victor 45-RPM record changer. His interest in radios and electronic equipment continued throughout his life, as he cultivated an appreciation for unique design in everyday objects. In the 1960s Kravis began an illustrious career in radio broadcasting, becoming one of the earliest broadcasters of FM radio and eventually owning two radio stations. A variety of the radios that he collected will be on display at the upcoming exhibition.

Designer Unidentified, Motorola Aero-Vane Radio, Model 51×15, ca. 1941, catalin, electronic components, paperboard, and fabric, 6 1/2 x 9 3/4 x 6 1/2 inches. Made by Motorola. Oklahoma State University Museum of Art, George R. Kravis II Collection, 2018.016.102. Photo by Phil Shockley.

Kravis, native to Tulsa, Oklahoma, went on to become a philanthropist focusing on art education as well as a serious collector of contemporary fine art and design. Kravis notoriously shared pieces from his collection and also donated objects to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of the City of New York, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, as well as the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. Kravis had said, “Sharing my collection with others has always been a pleasure; more recently it has become my mission.”

George Kravis, 2017, visiting the exhibition Oklahoma and Beyond: Selections from the George R. Kravis II Collection at the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art.

“When I think about George, what stands out is his passion for art and design, and his curiosity about the latest developments in art and technology. He had a keen awareness of the design aspects of his surroundings. His joy in sharing his knowledge and excitement about the world around him was infectious,” Arlette Klaric, exhibition curator and friend of Kravis commented.

“One of the goals of this exhibition is to introduce people to industrial design and make visitors aware and sensitive to the world of objects that surround them everyday. We want to nurture a thoughtfulness about those objects that goes beyond function, to consider how possessions can visually reflect our identity and the world we live in,” Klaric said.

During this exhibition, the Museum of Art will offer programming for people of all ages starting with Second Saturday on February 8th with a 3D Design Chair Challenge. Using new 3D pens, visitors can design and create miniature chairs, which will then be on display for the duration of the exhibition. The Museum will also host an ongoing community project called “Cherished Possessions” inviting community members to bring in cherished objects and to share why they are meaningful. Objects will be photographed and then in turn, the photographs will be displayed at the Museum. “We all have collections. I know I started with rocks as a kid. We hope that our community can view their cherished possessions through the lens of a collector by finding the beauty in simple everyday objects,” says Vicky Berry, Director of Museum.  

In the Mind of a Collector will be on view from January 14th, 2020 and will run through July 18th, 2020. There will be a reception and Final Friday event on January 31, 2020 from 5 to 7 pm. To learn more about this exhibition, visit museum.okstate.edu.