Hearst the Collector

Art of the Americas Building, Level 2
November 9, 2008–February 1, 2009
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William Randolph Hearst (1860–1951) was one of the most influential forces in the history of American journalism. Mercilessly caricatured inCitizen Kane, Hearst in reality was a populist multimillionaire who crusaded against political corruption. He fostered simultaneous excellence and sensationalism in reporting, transformed the graphic design of newspapers, and was in the vanguard of the development of newsreels. Hearst also became a conspicuous movie producer, a voracious collector, and an outstanding benefactor of the early Los Angeles County Museum.

An obituary estimated that Hearst alone had accounted for 25 percent of the world's art market during the 1920s and '30s. When his empire teetered near bankruptcy in 1937, the collections were divided. Half was retained by Hearst, and half became his companies' asset, much of it to be sold. The dispersal of most of this colossal hoard over the years, andCitizen Kane 's freakish image, hindered a correct assessment of Hearst's achievements as a collector, as a thrillingly imaginative patron of architecture and design, and as the greatest individual donor to the Los Angeles County Museum. A remarkable figure in American history, Hearst was part of California's heritage and a dominant personality in Los Angeles.

This unprecedented exhibition of approximately one hundred and seventy works, organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, will provide a better understanding of Hearst by exploring what he owned—and why—and by reassembling and contextualizing the best of what he collected, including many of his gifts to the Los Angeles County Museum.

This exhibition is curated by Mary Levkoff, European painting and sculpture, organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and made possible in part by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.  In-kind media support provided by KCRW 89.9 FM and Los Angeles magazine.

Image: Armor (detail), Milan, Italy, c. 1600–1610, steel, gold, silver, textile, leather, height: 62 1/2 in., weight: 42 lb., 6 oz., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Fletcher Fund, 1938, photograph © 1990 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.