The Long Beach Museum of Art has received several large donations of artwork which have expanded and enhanced the Museum’s collection and which reflect the donors’ passion for collecting artwork from a particular time period, region, or stylistic movement. Six major Donor Collections on the website include the Melba and Al Langman Collection, the Dornfeld Staffordshire Collection, the Marie W. Forrest Trust collection of Continental Earthenware, the Frieda Bradsher collection of contemporary ceramics, the Milton Wichner Collection, and the Wilma and Roland Duquette collection.
The Melba and Al Langman Collection, a gift of the Langman family, includes works by many of the most significant figures in late-twentieth century ceramics. Both works that are related to functional, utilitarian studio ceramics as well as ceramics that emerge from the traditions of sculpture are represented. Melba Langman’s interest in ceramics developed after she retired from her career in opera. She studied ceramics in Los Angeles County and with her husband Al, and collected late twentieth-century ceramics. The collection includes work in porcelain by Melba Langman as well. The Langman Collection enhances the Museum’s mid-century examples of California studio ceramics with works by Rudy Autio, Ralph Bacerra, Viola Frey and others both from within and outside California.
The Gift of the Estate of Dr. and Mrs. Leslie Dornfeld includes over one-hundred Staffordshire ceramics which came to the Museum in 2005. Leslie Dornfeld and his Italian-born wife Maria Grazia, were until, their untimely deaths in 2002, passionate collectors of English figurative ceramics. What they found most appealing about the earthenware figure groups, in addition to their inherent beauty, was the fact that they had been created specifically for a middleclass audience in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Marie W. Forrest Collection of Continental Earthenware, a gift of the Marie W. Forrest Trust, consists of nearly one-hundred French Faience ceramics, also known as tin-glazed earthenware. Dated from the late 17th century to the 19th century, the objects in this collection come from numerous regions throughout France, recognized for their distinct designs and techniques. Marie Forrest worked as a postmistress and lived in Southern California. Over her long life she maintained a passion for collecting French Faience during her annual vacation travels to France.
In 2007, the Museum received over 80 works of contemporary ceramics as a Gift from Frieda K. Bradsher. These works extend the Museum’s collection of ceramics into the 21st century with both functional and sculptural expressions of the ceramic arts. Frieda Bradsher was a Long Beach resident, one-time Long Beach Museum of Art Docent, and a ceramist. Like Melba Langman, Bradsher both created and collected contemporary ceramics. Bradsher attended ceramics workshops here and abroad. Her passion for ceramics extended to combining her travels with visiting ceramic studios, workshops, and exhibitions where she would frequently purchase examples by the leading ceramic artists.
The Milton Wichner Collection was given to the Long Beach Museum of Art in 1979. It includes significant works by leading early European Modernists Jawlensky, Kandinsky, Feininger, Moholy-Nagy and Fischinger. Milton Wichner moved to Southern California after he received his law degree from Harvard in 1936. He had a long career as a formidable trial attorney and died in 1978. During the 1940s, Wichner’s cultural interested induced him to attend the exhibitions of various arts organizations including the gallery of Earl Stendahl. He met Galka Scheyer, a representative for contemporary artists who exhibited the works of European Modernists known as the Blue Four. He saw these artists on the West Coast for the first time at Scheyer’s exhibitions and collected sixty-one paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints. He had a special admiration for the art of Jawlensky and collected thirty-six examples of his work.
Long-time members and supporters of the Long Beach Museum of Art, Wilma and Roland Duquette, residents of Long Beach, supported the Museum and gave works of art to the permanent collection. Over a period of nineteen years, the Duquettes gave contemporary American and Latin American works of art to the Museum’s permanent collection. The majority of American works are by Southern California artists including Peter Alexander, Charles Arnoldi, Billy All Bengston, and Michael Todd. The Duquettes collected widely and the collection includes work by Picasso, Tamayo, Toledo, Vlaminck, Warhol, Stamos, and Raphael Soyer.
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