The Patton Collection: A Gift to North Carolina

March 28, 2015—August 23, 2015
North Carolina Museum of Art
This exhibition features an exceptional gift to the NCMA from the private collection of Jim and Mary Patton. This transformative gift significantly expands the scope of the Museum’s permanent collection, both augmenting works by artists currently in the collection and adding works by artists previously not represented, enabling the Museum to present a comprehensive picture of the significant movements in modern and contemporary art.

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Amassed over a lifetime, the collection includes seminal works by masters of mid- to late-20th-century art: Milton Avery, Richard Diebenkorn, Jackie Ferrara, Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Motherwell, David Park, Sean Scully, Frank Stella, Wayne Thiebaud, and many others. 

The Pattons have had long-standing ties to North Carolina. Jim Patton was born and raised in Durham and graduated with honors from UNC–Chapel Hill; Mary Patton (1929–2014) grew up in Durham and attended the Woman’s College (now UNC–Greensboro). The Pattons’ passion for art started with Mary Patton’s lifelong interest in painting as an accomplished artist in her own right. Their enthusiasm for collecting was founded in a great passion for working with artists and a deep commitment to stewardship.

When asked why they would want to give their collection away, Mary Patton said, “My generation and the generations before it felt that it was our duty. If you loved and lived with works of art, then you want to share them with others.” In Jim Patton’s words, “I am thankful we were able to collect this art and give it back to the world.”

In addition to this exhibition in East Building, several other works from the Pattons’ gift are on view in the Modern and Contemporary Galleries in West Building.

Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for this exhibition was made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.


Sean Scully, Wall of Light Peru, 2000, oil on linen, 110 x 132 in., Gift of Mary and Jim Patton, © 2014 Sean Scully 

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