Amon Carter Acquires More Than 240 Works from Collection of Finis Welch
Bequest Includes Photographs by Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Alfred Stieglitz, and William Eggleston as well as Works on Paper by Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Motherwell, and Rufino Tamayo
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art (the Carter) today announced the acquisition of more than 240 photographs and works on paper that significantly expand the Museum’s renowned photography and works on paper holdings. A bequest from the estate of Texas economist, entrepreneur, and collector Finis Welch, who passed away in 2020, the gift includes prints by Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston and more, which together greatly strengthen the Carter’s ability to tell the story of early photographic modernism in America. Works on paper by Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Lewis Rubenstein, and Rufino Tamayo add dimension to existing collection holdings by these artists, while three works by abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell are the first prints by the artist to enter the collection.
The bequest features 10 rare vintage works by Paul Outerbridge and a unique 10-print set of Aaron Siskind’s heralded series Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation, as well as key works by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and William Eggleston— including some the most rare and important examples of his photographs, which transform the Carter into a resource for Eggleston scholarship. Conceptual works by Marco Breuer, Chris McCaw and Alison Rossiter are the first works by these artists to enter the Carter’s collection. Works by Edward Burtynsky, Mitch Epstein, and Richard Misrach expand the Carter’s premier collection of American landscape photography.
A selection of these new acquisitions will go on view early next year at the Carter in the exhibition Beauty and Life: The Finis Welch Collection, opening February 20, 2022. Featuring nearly 50 photographs from the Welch Collection, the exhibition will highlight the range of artists and perspectives in this gift with works by Ansel Adams, Horace Bristol, Dorthea Lange, Paul Outerbridge, Gordon Parks, Edward Weston, and William Eggleston, among many others.
“This tremendous gift of photography and works on paper from Finis Welch adds significant depth to our collections, providing the Museum with its first works by several artists and expanded perspectives from familiar ones, which will allow us to tell a richer and more complete story of American photography and works on paper,” said Andrew J. Walker, Executive Director of the Carter. “A passionate collector, Finis spent the past decade acquiring key works with the Carter in mind for their eventual home. We are grateful for his generosity and look forward to spotlighting some of these compelling new additions to our collection in our galleries early next year.”
“Like most collectors, Finis acquired work that spoke to his personal interests and passions, from Depression-Era photography to works that displayed a photographer’s keen eye for life’s quotidian details,” said John Rohrbach, the Carter's Senior Curator of Photographs. “This led him to collect particular artists in depth, over time building a significant collection that includes both vintage masterpieces and works by leading contemporary photographers.”
Finis Welch (1938–2020) was a world-renowned economist, successful entrepreneur, accomplished rancher, and art collector who resided in Bryan, Texas. After earning his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1966, Welch built a distinguished career teaching economics at leading universities including the University of Chicago, UCLA, and Texas A&M University. A preeminent labor and employment economist, Welch was elected vice president of the American Economic Association in 2002. His strong commitment to education and to helping others led him to establish the Finis Welch Foundation, which continues to provide scholarships to high-achieving students who attend public universities in Texas. Welch was also founder and president of Welch Consulting, Ltd., and cofounder of StataCorp LLC, the firm that developed Stata, the statistical software package used by data scientists worldwide. Owner and operator of Center Ranch in Centerville, Texas, Welch raised cattle and horses for over 35 years.
About the Carter’s Photography Collection
The Carter houses over 45,000 exhibition-quality photographic prints and 250,000 photographic objects, making the Museum one of the country’s major repositories of American photography. The holdings span the history of the photographic medium, from one of the earliest daguerreotypes made in this country to inkjet prints being made today. The holdings reflect photography’s central role in documenting America’s nineteenth-century culture and history and the medium’s development as a significant and influential art form in the twentieth century to the present. Throughout its history, the Carter has supported the work of contemporary photographers. In 1979, the Museum commissioned Richard Avedon to create his acclaimed series In the American West, and the collection now holds a complete set of prints from that project. A collaboration in 2013 brought Chicago–based photographer Terry Evans to Forth Worth to document the city’s Trinity River. The museum is also home to the archives and monographic collections of photographers Carlotta Corpron, Nell Dorr, Laura Gilpin, Eliot Porter, Helen Post, Clara Sipprell, Erwin E. Smith and Karl Struss.