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Editorial: Marisol's bequest gives another boost to Albright-Knox’s blossoming fortunes

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s fortunes continue to grow through the latest in a series of extraordinarily generous donations, this one from the estate of pop artist and Buffalo favorite, Marisol, an enormously talented and prolific artist. She generously bequeathed to the gallery its largest single donation of art.

Marisol died last April at 85. The trove she left the gallery will increase its operating endowment as it embarks on its first major expansion in more than 50 years.

Her gift encompasses more than 100 sculptures, some 150 works on paper, thousands of photographs and the artist’s New York City loft apartment, with an impending sale worth between $4 million and $5 million.

The gift is, as Albright-Knox Director Janne Sirén said, transformative: “I cannot think of a mid-century artist of Marisol’s stature who would have left their entire estate to a museum.”

Generations will benefit from the display of works that will, as News arts critic Colin Dabkowski wrote, turn the Albright-Knox into an “international destination for anyone interested in Marisol.”
How the Albright-Knox found itself in such an enviable position as beneficiary stretches back decades and the relationship formed by patron and namesake Seymour H. Knox Jr. He was known to forge such bonds. Among those artists have been Clyfford Still, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and many others.

The gallery maintained a close relationship with Marisol. The Albright-Knox, as Dabkowski wrote, was the first museum to acquire her work: the popular sculptures “The Generals” and “Baby Girl” in 1962 and 1964.

The artist frequently appeared at Albright-Knox openings and events over the decades. It is a testament to Knox, who had the insight to support and cultivate such a gifted artist.
His vision led to what is described as an unprecedented bequest “set down decades ago in Marisol’s will,” as Dabkowski wrote – a bequest that “is a direct result of Knox’s early embrace of her work.”

Longtime friend and co-executor of her estate, Carlos Brillembourg, described Marisol’s gratitude to Knox for purchasing “The Generals” and “Baby Girl,” her first museum collection.
News of the estate caught the attention of Buffalo-born billionaire Jeffrey Gundlach, who recalled the visual impact of Marisol’s work when he visited the gallery as a boy. Gundlach, a billionaire and Western New York native, also demonstrated extraordinary generosity in donating $42.5 million to the expansion project at the edge of Delaware Park. With it, the fundraising drive quickly surpassed its goal.

It is appropriate that the museum is being renamed the Buffalo Albright-Knox Gundlach Art Museum and equally so that a gallery featuring Marisol’s work within the expanded and reimagined space will be named for the artist who loved, and was loved by, Buffalo.

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