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Modern (20th and 21st c.) art is the largest area of interest among visual studies disciplines at Duke University.  The Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies has four faculty who teach 20th and 21st century art exclusively and their courses comprise the highest Departmental enrollment.  The modern area accounts for the greatest number of graduate students in Visual Studies as well.  The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke collects in, and primarily mounts exhibitions of, modern and post-modern art (two of the four Nasher curators are modernists); their museology courses focus strictly on modern art.  Interest in the modern period of art in general, like all American universities, is predominant. 

The literature in this field is also the largest within art.  Formats include exhibition catalogs, catalogues raisonnés, monographs, biennal- and fair catalogs, as well as private dealer publications.  While some information is free and online, intellectual property rights of image holders mandate that most of the literature is still issued in print form.  Duke works closely with UNC-CH to cover this massive area based on school interests.  Still, to cover our respective areas even cursorily is difficult. 

The library has been fortunate to have a powerful base collection of such material through donations of contemporary collectors and the generosity of faculty.  Relying on such sources creates inevitable gaps and cannot be counted upon for ongoing acquisitions. 

Establish a collection endowment ($300,000)

Despite Duke University Libraries wealth of materials in the area of modern art collections, there exist several target areas for collecting that would greatly benefit from the establishment of a collection endowment.  A need exists to acquire the ephemeral material that documents new artists collected by the Nasher, emerging art studied by class inquiry, and historic cultural initiatives.  

The Rubenstein Library has art collections in the areas of artists’ books by women and contemporary photography.  The requested material would support these collections as well.  Contemporary artist’s material is genuinely more unique among libraries holdings and less easily loanable.  Duke Libraries is a vigorous lender of material and increased ownership of such genres would add to the greater NC resources. 

We have need for catalogues raisonnés of targeted contemporary artists, specifically of women artists and performance art.  This would be retrospective as well as a base-line addition to the collection.  An endowment would also enable us to expand our contemporary exhibition catalogs: Lilly Library subscribes to current ex cats of 17 major art museums, so additional funding would allow us to purchase designated smaller galleries, especially those documenting Hispanic-lineage artists and LGBTQ-artists and themes.  The endowment would also allow us to purchase artists’ statements, manifesti, and other primary-source material, with an emphasis on world artists and emerging cultures.