“The Picture Is the Window”: Lynn Gumpert and Lisa Corrin on Abby Grey and intrepid art collecting [Audio]

Consisting of more than 700 artworks, the Abby Weed Grey Collection of Modern Asian and Middle Eastern Art at New York University comprises the largest institutional holdings of Iranian, Turkish and Indian modern art in any American university museum.  This unparalleled historical resource was amassed by Abby Weed Grey (1902-1983), a self-described “dyed-in-the-wool Midwesterner” from St. Paul, Minnesota. In the 1960s and early ’70s, when few other American collectors were attuned to art being made in the Middle East and Asia, Grey traveled extensively in these regions, steadily acquiring works by contemporary local artists. Throughout her life, Grey’s collecting was guided by a belief in the power of art to stimulate intercultural dialogue. 

On March 4, 2020, in conjunction with the exhibition Modernisms: Iranian, Turkish, and Indian Highlights from NYU’s Abby Weed Grey Collection, Lynn Gumpert, Director of the Grey Art Gallery at NYU and Lisa Corrin, Director of the Block Museum of Art, held a conversation on this intrepid woman collector and the way that her legacy might inform global directions for contemporary collectors. 


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About Lynn Gumpert: 

Since 1997 Lynn Gumpert has served as Director of the Grey Art Gallery at New York University. She is responsible for the development and direction of the Grey Art Gallery’s exhibitions and related programs as well as the permanent collection. She has overseen more than 70 exhibitions at the Grey. She previously worked as a writer, consultant, and independent curator, organizing shows in New York, Japan, and France. From 1980 to 1988 she was curator and senior curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. She authored the first major monograph on French artist Christian Boltanski (Flammarion, 1992) and has contributed essays to numerous publications. 

About Lisa Corrin: 

Lisa Corrin is the Ellen Philips Katz Director of The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. Her previous positions include Director, Williams College Museum of Art, Deputy Director of Art/Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum, where she was the artistic lead for its new waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park, Chief Curator at the Serpentine Gallery in London and Assistant Director/Curator of The Contemporary in Baltimore. She has published widely on contemporary art, public art, and critical museology. Most recently she was co-curator of A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-


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