MFAH Gets A Boost From An Oil Executive's Art Collection

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Since the death of oil tycoon Robert Chaney, questions have been raised regarding the fate of the famous Chaney family art collection. (Chaney committed suicide in late October of this year.)

A small part of that question was answered Friday when the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston announced eight major works from the Chaney's stash will become part of its permanent collection.

"In addition to the donation of two major works by Damien Hirst and Chiho Aoshima, the MFAH has purchased six works with funds provided by the Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund," says a press release from the MFAH.

Chaney, his wife Jereann and daughter Holland amassed one of the world's largest collections of Asian and British Contemporary art. In the past two years, the Museum has featured work from the Chaney vault in "Red Hot: Asian Art Today from the Chaney Family Collection" (2007) and "End Game: British Contemporary Art from the Chaney Family Collection" (2008).

"Robert, in the last year or so, made no secret in his sympathy and allegiance to the museum and shortly before he died he entered into a series of conversations with [MFAH Director Peter Marzio] about taking this a step further forward," Alison de Lima Greene, MFAH's Curator of Contemporary Art & Special Projects, tells Hair Balls. "After his death, Jereann, once again, followed up with us by saying that she very much wanted to fulfill Robert's ambitions."

Jereann and Holland gifted Damien Hirst's End Game and Chiho Aoshima's City Glow, Rachel Whitread's Untitled (Fire Escape) to the Museum. The remaining six pieces, all of which were featured in either "Red Hot" or "End Game," were purchased with endowment funds.

Greene says the price tag is being kept confidential, but the Chaneys were extremely helpful in helping the Museum acquire the pieces. Especially in these economic times when art organizations and non-profits are pulling the dollars they're used to.

"I am speaking with absolute truth when I say that Jereann and Holland have been outstandingly generous," she says.

-- Dusti Rhodes

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