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backstory50: The Passionate Collector

In 2002, as Roy R. Neuberger turned 100, he published his second memoir, The Passionate Collector: Eighty Years in the World of Art. He dedicated the book “with great affection and respect to the extraordinary, original, passionate artists who have enriched my life beyond measure.” 

Roy’s passion for supporting artists during their lifetimes guided his work as a collector and has, for generations, guided us at the Neuberger in the work that we do with contemporary artists.

Among the first works of art Roy ever purchased was William Gropper’s ca. 1934 study for The Wine Festival, a mural commission the artist received from the Schenley Products Company for their Modern Room. The drawing has long fascinated me as Roy’s choice for an early purchase.

Bought from one of the galleries Roy frequented in those years, ACA Galleries, the study showing a man pouring wine into another man’s cup is pretty visually innocuous, BUT the artist… well you simply could not have chosen a more infamous artist at that moment in time, not just in the art world but on the international political scene. Gropper had caricatured the Emperor of Japan in a 1935 issue of Vanity Fair, causing what effectively became an international incident between Japan and the United States. You did not need to be art-centric, just knowledgeable of current events, as was Roy, to know of Gropper’s infamy.

The Gropper drawing will be on view in April in the 1969—1974 project of The Making of a Museum: 50 Years.

Today’s 50th anniversary thank-you goes to Helen Stambler Neuberger and Jim Neuberger for faithfully stewarding Jim’s father’s legacy and for all that they do and have done, as passionate collectors themselves, for the Neuberger Museum of Art.

Tracy Fitzpatrick
Director, Neuberger Museum of Art

Orange square with a white border and large numbers 50 with small letters neu overlapping the top of the 5 and the word Years beneath

Watch for a new backstory every Wednesday and follow us on social media as we share stories about the Museum’s history, our evolution to the present day, and look ahead to our exciting future. Stay up-to-date with the latest news and “NEU 50 Years” updates on our anniversary webpage.