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University of California, Irvine Will Create a New California Art Museum Following Major Donation

IRVINE, CALIFORNIA—On Wednesday, the University of California, Irvine announced the receipt of a donation from the trust of Gerald E. Buck of more than three thousand works from a collection the real estate developer built over four decades. The donation includes paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by more than five hundred artists, including Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, David Hockney, Ed Ruscha, and Joan Brown, as well as many prominent examples of California Impressionism, modernism, and postwar American art.

The Buck collection will be housed and displayed in a new purpose-built art museum at the university, in the same location determined by architect William Pereira for the original UCI campus master plan. The new museum will be called the UCI Museum and Institute for California Art, or MICA, and will also support a PhD museum studies program and a Masters program in art conservation. The university expects to open the museum by 2022; the collection is currently stored in a former post office building in Laguna Beach.

Stephen Barker, dean of the university’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts and newly appointed executive director of the UCI Museum and Institute for California Art said, “This gift instantly puts UCI on the map as the premier collection and study center at the heart of California art. From plein-air to hard-edge abstraction to figurative work, it is just endlessly extraordinary. We are honored and thrilled that Mr. Buck and his family have entrusted this amazing trove of art to UCI.”

For the Los Angeles Times, Christopher Knight reports on the details of Buck’s collection and its potential influence on art production in the greater Los Angeles region. Buck only began to collect art after accepting an Anthony van Dyck painting, rather than cash, for land he was unable to sell after a failed oil-drilling operation. After collecting European paintings, including a van Gogh, he turned his attention to California artists. Buck had no specific connection to the UCI, and the university had no notice of his intention to donate his collection to the school. He died in 2013, and his collection has been overseen by his daughter Christina since. 

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November 16, 2017