Abby Aldrich Rockefeller


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American collector and patron, born Abby Aldrich in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1901 she married JohnD.RockefellerJr (1874–1960), son of the immensely wealthy founder of Standard Oil. She had broad artistic interests, but in the 1920s she began to specialize in modern painting, collecting work by Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, and numerous American artists, among them Demuth, Hopper, and O'Keeffe. In 1928 she staged an exhibition in her New York home of the work of George Overbury ‘Pop’ Hart (1869–1933), a colourful bohemian figure who made impromptu pictures of scenes observed on his travels, and the show belatedly established his reputation. The following year she was one of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She was its first Treasurer and gave generous financial support; MoMA acknowledged her great contribution to its early development by naming its Print Room (1949) and Sculpture Garden (1953) after her. She supported various other cultural institutions, and during the Depression she helped several artists, including Shahn and Sheeler, by giving them commissions. Her husband was also greatly interested in art, although mainly in earlier periods (he provided the funds for the Metropolitan Museum, New York, to buy the medieval collection of George Grey Barnard). His most notable contribution to 20th-century art was commissioning Rockefeller Center, New York, a huge office complex (begun 1929) featuring some superb Art Deco interiors and Paul Manship's famous figure of Prometheus which overlooks the skating rink. BlanchetteHookerRockefeller (Mrs John D. Rockefeller III) (1909–92), the daughter-in-law of Abby and John, was also a collector, mainly of contemporary work, and patron. On a visit to Japan in 1959 she bought sculptures by Masayuki Nagare, and his first visit to the USA in 1962 was made at her invitation. From 1959 to 1965 she was president of the Museum of Modern Art.

Subjects: Art.

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