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Albright–Knox Art Gallery

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Title: Albright–Knox Art Gallery  
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Albright–Knox Art Gallery

Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Location 1285 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, New York
Built 1890-1905
Architect Augustus Saint Gaudens, Edward Brodhead Green[1]
Architectural style Beaux arts[1]
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 71000538[1]
Added to NRHP May 27, 1971

The Albright–Knox Art Gallery is an art museum located at 1285 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, New York in Delaware Park. The gallery is a major showplace for modern art and contemporary art. It is located directly across the street from Buffalo State College.


View from Elmwood Avenue
View from inside

The parent organization of the Albright–Knox Art Gallery is the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, founded in 1862. It is one of the oldest public arts institutions in the United States. In 1890, Buffalo entrepreneur and philanthropist, John J. Albright, a wealthy Buffalo industrialist, began the construction of the Albright Art Gallery for the Academy. The building was designed by prominent local architect Edward Brodhead Green. It was originally intended to be used as the Fine Arts Pavilion for the Pan-American Exposition in 1901, but delays in its construction caused it to remain uncompleted until 1905.

In 1962, a new addition was made to the gallery through the contributions of Seymour H. Knox, Jr. and his family, and many other donors. At this time the museum was renamed the Albright–Knox Art Gallery. The new building was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill architect Gordon Bunshaft, who is noted for the Lever House in New York City. The Albright–Knox Art Gallery is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The museum first began discussing a possible expansion in 2001. In 2012, the board commissioned the architectural firm Snøhetta to produce a master plan for future growth.[2]


In 1978, the Albright–Knox Art Gallery's exhibition on the work of Jenny Holzer.[3]


Albert Gleizes, 1913, L'Homme au Hamac (Man in a Hammock), oil on canvas, 130 x 155.5 cm

The Albright–Knox Art Gallery has long operated not by collecting artists’ work in depth but by trying to acquire key works.[4] The gallery's collection includes several pieces spanning art throughout the centuries. Impressionistic and Post-Impressionistic styles can be found in works by artists of the nineteenth century such as Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh.

Revolutionary styles from the early twentieth century such as Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Joan Miró, Piet Mondrian, and Alexander Rodchenko. Because of Seymour H. Knox and Gordon M. Smith, a former director, the Albright-Knox was one of the first museums to collect Abstract Expressionism in depth.[5]

More modern pieces showing styles of John Connell, and Per Kirkeby. The museum bought Anselm Kiefer's large-scale Die Milchstrasse (The Milkyway) (1985–87) in 1988 to celebrate its 125th anniversary.[7]

The Albright-Knox’s current exhibition space can accommodate only 200 works — just 3% of its 6,740-piece collection.[8]

Selected collection highlights


The Albright-Knox has more than 6,500 works in its collection, below is a list highlighting a few notable paintings:[9]

Name Artist Year
La Jeune bonne (The Servant Girl) Amedeo Modigliani 1918
100 Cans Andy Warhol 1962
Cow Andy Warhol 1976
Self-Portrait with Monkey Frida Kahlo 1938
Convergence Jackson Pollock 1952
Hotel Lobby Max Beckmann 1950
Orange and Yellow Mark Rothko 1956
Nude Figure Pablo Picasso 1909-1910
La Toilette Pablo Picasso 1906
The Yellow Christ Paul Gauguin 1889
Soleil, Tour, Aéroplane (Sun, Tower, Airplane) Robert Delaunay 1913
La Maison de la Crau (The Old Mill) Vincent van Gogh 1888
Music and Literature William Michael Harnett 1878


The gallery contains a variety of sculptures on the exterior grounds. Some of the most notable include:

Name Artist Year
Alphabet Series Fletcher Benton N/A
Big Red James Rosati 1971
Bond Alexander Liberman 1969
Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Monochrome I, Built to Live Anywhere, at Home Here Nancy Rubins 2011
Cigarette Tony Smith 1961
Diamond I of III Antoni Milkowski 1967
Directional I Lyman Kipp 1962
Karma Do-Ho Suh 2010
E.C. Column Kenneth Snelson 1969–81
Flat Rate II Lyman Kipp 1969
Four Chances Kenneth Snelson 1982
Into the Blue Shayne Dark 2005
Laura Jaume Plensa 2012
Look and See Jim Hodges 2005
Stacked Revision Structure Liam Gillick 2005
The Cry Isamu Noguchi 1962
Turning the World Upside Down #4 Anish Kapoor 1998


The gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm. The first Friday of the month, through the generous support of M&T Bank the Gallery is open from 10am-10pm, with free admission to the permanent collection.[10]

Deaccessioning and the Albright-Knox's mission

View from Delaware Park

On June 7, 2007, a Roman era bronze sculpture of Artemis and the Stag sold at Sotheby's auction house in New York by the Albright–Knox Art Gallery brought $28.6 million,[11] the highest price ever paid at auction for an antiquity or a sculpture of any period, according to Sotheby's. It was purchased by the London dealer Giuseppe Eskenazi on behalf of a private European collector.[12] The event brought national attention to what had been a local question, the mission of the Albright-Knox, which was defined by the Albright-Knox director Louis Grachos in February 2007, at the time the list of works of art to be deaccessioned, as falling outside the institution's historical "core mission" of "acquiring and exhibiting art of the present". The definition made public critics wonder whether the position at the Gallery of "William Hogarth's Lady's Last Stake or Sir Joshua Reynolds' Cupid as a Link Boy were secure; works by Gustave Courbet, Honoré Daumier, Jacques-Louis David and Eugène Delacroix were purchased by the museum in earlier decades.[13]

The vote to deaccession certain art works was made by a vote of the museum's Board of Directors, was voted and ratified by the entire membership, and followed the guidelines of the American Alliance of Museums.[14] The sale raised questions about how museums can remain vital when they are situated in economically declining regions and have limited means for raising funds for operations and acquisitions.[15]



Since 2013, Janne Sirén has been director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Sirén is believed to be the first director from the Nordic region to take the helm of a major American art museum.[16]

His predecessors include:

  • Louis Grachos (2002-2013)
  • Douglas C. Schultz
  • Robert Treat Buck Jr. (1973-1983)
  • Gordon M. Smith
  • Samuel D. Magavern


As of 2007, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's endowment stood at about $58 million, generating about $1.1 million a year for acquisitions.[17] Since the proceeds from the sale of some 200 works of art in 2007 were added to the preexisting $22 million acquisitions endowment, the museum has been able to spend as much as almost $5 million on new art annually.[18] In 2013, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery received an $11 million bequest from the estate of longtime board member and Buffalo arts patron Peggy Pierce Elfvin, possibly the largest single gift in the museum’s history.[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "National Register of Historical Places - New York (NY), Erie County". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-02-24. 
  2. ^ Julia Halperin (October 22, 2014), Buffalo’s jewel-box art museum to grow The Buffalo News.
  3. ^ Michael Brenson (July 27, 1988), Media Artist Named To Represent U.S. At '90 Venice Biennale New York Times.
  4. ^ Randy Kennedy (March 14, 2007), Buffalo’s Pain: Giving Up Old Art to Gain New New York Times.
  5. ^ Michael Brenson (October 18, 1987), When America Put Its Stamp On World Painting New York Times.
  6. ^ "History of Albright-Knox Art Gallery",, 23 September 2008
  7. ^ Colin Dabkowski (August 24, 2013), Albright-Knox buys mammoth painting by German artist Anselm Kiefer The Buffalo News.
  8. ^ Julia Halperin (October 22, 2014), Buffalo’s jewel-box art museum to grow The Buffalo News.
  9. ^ "Collection Highlights". Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ , 7 June 2007The Buffalo NewsArtemis" fetches a staggering sum" Accessed 3 September 2008;
  12. ^ , September 2007Art In America"Albright-Knox rakes it in", .
  13. ^ Lee Rosenbaum, "Mission Creep: Albright-Knox Belatedly Releases Its Complete Deaccession List" Arts Journal
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Carol Vogel (January 14, 2013), Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Gets a Director from Much Farther North New York Times.
  17. ^ Randy Kennedy (March 14, 2007), Buffalo’s Pain: Giving Up Old Art to Gain New New York Times.
  18. ^ Kevin West (November 2007), In With The New - With contemporary art booming out of control, how can museums afford to play? W.
  19. ^ Colin Dabkowski (October 9, 2013), Albright-Knox gets $11 million bequest from ex-board member Peggy Pierce Elfvin Buffalo News.

External links

  • Albright-Knox Art Gallery official homepage
  • Buffalo Architecture and History: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, with photos and more detailed history
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