State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, December 3, 2014 – June 8, 2015

Gifts to America cat cover


This is a groundbreaking group of objects that have been assembled as a gift to the State Hermitage Museum on the occasion of its 250th anniversary, for while the museum previously acquired several examples of postwar European studio jewelry (Bruno Martinazzi, Wendy Ramshaw, and David Watkins), the 74 works in ceramics, jewelry, glass and textiles presented here provide the Hermitage with a much broader and diverse foundation of 20th and 21st century crafts and applied arts. While it is not encyclopedic, it nonetheless covers many of the major positions and leading voices occurring internationally among artists working in the crafts beginning at the end of World War II. As such, it also reflects a particular point of view, that of Helen W. Drutt English, who has been an international pioneer in the field of contemporary crafts as an educator, gallerist, and curator since the 1960s. Many of the objects have been gifted from her personal collection and holdings from members of her family, while others come from the collectors and artists in Asia, Europe, and the United States with whom she has worked in the course of her long and distinguished career. As evidenced by her introductory statement, the project was designed not to be didactic or academic in its outlook, but rather it seeks both to create a cornerstone for this field in the Hermitage collections, one that lends an unprecedented level of institutional distinction to the artists, and to create a resonance with the vast historical collections found throughout the museum.