Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador for the New

During a career spanning half a century, Ileana Sonnabend (1914–2007) helped shape the course of postwar art in Europe and North America. Both a gallerist and a noted collector, Sonnabend discovered and championed some of the most significant artists of her time. Among the many important works that Sonnabend owned is Robert Rauschenberg’s Combine painting Canyon (1959), which the Sonnabend family generously donated to The Museum of Modern Art in 2012. In celebration of this extraordinary gift, Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador for the New explores Sonnabend’s legendary eye through selected works of art that she presented in her eponymous galleries in Paris and New York.

Renowned for her ambassadorial role in bringing new art across the Atlantic, Sonnabend was instrumental in introducing American Pop art and Minimalism to Europe and Italian Arte Povera to the United States. Sonnabend also sought out and supported some of the most noncommercial and challenging Conceptual, new-media, and performance-based art of the 1970s. The exhibition includes works by approximately 30 artists, including Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Robert Morris, Mario Merz, Vito Acconci, Mel Bochner, John Baldessari, and Jeff Koons. Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador for the New reveals the astounding scope of Sonnabend’s taste and salutes her commitment to introducing groundbreaking art to the public.

This exhibition is organized by Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, and Claire Lehmann, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

The exhibition is supported by the MoMA Annual Exhibition Fund.