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San Diego museums receive $40-million art collection

March 23, 2012 |  3:49 pm

Kline work among the San Diego museum gift

Two San Diego museums will share a gift of a private art collection worth $40 million.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the San Diego Museum of Art received a series of Minimalist and contemporary masterpieces from the late Dr. Vance E. Kondon and his wife, Elisabeth Giesberger.

The Museum of Art received 48 German Expressionist paintings, drawings and prints from a range of artists, including Otto Dix, Alexej von Jawlensky, Gabriele Munter and Gustav Klimt. Collection highlights include an erotic drawing by Egon Shiele and a double-sided painting by Max Pechstein.

The Museum of Contemporary Art received 30 contemporary pieces from the 1950s to 1980s, with artworks from Piero Manzoni, Ad Dekkers, Christo, Jules Olitski and Franz Kline, as well as California artists Craig Kauffman and Ron Davis.

Kondon served on the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s Board of Trustees during the 1970s and was known as one of San Diego's top art collectors and supporters. His collection, 30 years in the making, ranged from figurative pieces of the early 1900s to the abstract works of the latter half of the 20th century.

Kondon died in 1997, and Geisberger died last year.

“What makes this gift truly special is the rarity of the works of art we are inheriting,” SDMA Executive Director Roxana Velásquez said in a statement. "This gift will bring extraordinary depth to our world-class permanent collection.”

“True museum collections are built upon this type of generous philanthropy,” Hugh Davies, the director and chief executive of MCASD, said in a press release. “As a past board member, Vance Kondon’s collection represents the sensibilities of the museum and its commitment to reductive abstraction."


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Photo: Franz Kline, "Untitled," 1953, black and white gouache on paper. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, gift of the estate of Vance E. Kondon and Elisabeth Giesberger. Credit: The Franz Kline Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.