M i l e s t o n e s
Roy R. Neuberger Celebrates 95th Birthday July 21, 1998
Roy R. Neuberger, one of this country's foremost patrons of American art, will celebrate his 95th birthday July 21, 1998. Mr. Neuberger, who lives in Manhattan, is the founding patron of the Neuberger Museum of Art, situated on the Purchase College, SUNY campus, and a preeminent financier. He founded Neuberger & Berman, a prominent and successful brokerage firm that manages over $50 million. Last year, he published his memoirs: So Far, So Good the First 94 Years, and he remains an active art collector.
As a young man, Neuberger developed a passion for art. From the Floret Fels biography of Vincent van Gogh, he learned that the artist sold only one painting during his lifetime and that he died impoverished and desperate. Appalled by the irony, Neuberger committed himself to the support of living artists. He has maintained that commitment with flair, insight and generosity.
The focus of most of his collecting has been living American artists. In the 1940s, when he amassed the bulk of his collection, a mere handful of serious collectors purchased American contemporary art. Many of the artists whom Neuberger supported were of the vanguard, innovators who were yet to achieve attention, approval or acceptance. As he built his collection, Neuberger became deeply impressed with the work of Milton Avery. To Roy Neuberger, Avery's lack of recognition was an incentive not a deterrent. He purchased Avery paintings from art dealers and from the artist directly. Across the years, Neuberger acquired more than one hundred Avery worksthat represented every period of the artist's mature production from 1930 to 1965.
In 1944, motivated by appeals from The Museum of Modern Art, Roy Neuberger opened his home and his collection to a group of the Museum's benefactors. In the process, he established a friendship with Nelson Rockefeller, then, an enthusiastic 34 year old collector. In 1967, as Governor of New York, Rockefeller was developing the SUNY system. His plans envisioned Westchester County's Purchase College as the SUNY campus most devoted to creative arts. Rockefeller asked Poy Neuberger to consider donating his collection to the planned SUNY Purchase museum.
Neuberger agreed to contribute a copious part of his collection--over 500 works--to an institution that was to be designed by Philip Johnson. Through Neuberger's generosity, the Neuberger Museum of Art became today's reality.
Roy Neuberger is among the nation's greatest benefactors of art and artists. Over the years, his substantial contributions to the creation, preservation and establishment of art are beyond measure. He has added significantly to the collections of many of our cherished art institutions including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Museum, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Vassar College Art Gallery, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, and Smith College Museum of Art.
Many of his contributions lie in the personal support, wisdom and sense of history that he has conferred upon the institutions and organizations that collect and preserve art in the public behalf. He has been president of the American Federation of Art; he is an honorary life trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; he is a member of The Metropolitan Museum of Art' s finance committee; he is a founding member of the Friends of the Whitney Museum; and, he is a member of the International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.
This page was originally published 7/98 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 11/28/11
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