(New York, April 2, 2012) In recognition of a lifetime of support for American art and a generous gift by the Warner Foundation, a gallery of early Hudson River School paintings in the New American Wing of The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been designated the Jack and Susan Warner Gallery. Located within the suite of 26 rooms in the New American Wing Galleries for Paintings, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts, the Jack and Susan Warner Gallery features the work of New York artists during the first half of the 19th century, who believed that America’s relationship with the land helped define the unique promise of the United States.
“As I announce the naming of the Jack and Susan Warner Gallery, I am also extremely pleased to acknowledge the generosity of their foundation, both to the Museum as a whole and to the American Wing in particular,” commented Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum. “The paintings in the gallery that was named in their honor celebrate the American landscape as a resource for spiritual renewal and an expression of national and cultural identity.”
Emily K. Rafferty, the Metropolitan’s President, continued: “Jack and Susan Warner have been involved with the Metropolitan Museum in various ways for more than 10 years, and we are delighted that they have chosen to support one of the recently opened galleries of American paintings, an area of the Museum that they particularly love.”
The 95-year-old Jack Warner, whose grandfather invented the flat-bottomed brown paper bag, is the retired chairman and CEO of the family-owned Gulf States Paper Company, which he directed from 1945 to 1994. He was born in Decatur, Illinois, and graduated from Culver Military Academy and Washington & Lee University, where he is an emeritus trustee. He served in the United States Army as a commissioned officer during World War II in the last mounted cavalry unit under Lord Louis Mountbatten.
A renowned and pioneering collector of American art, Jack Warner has spent the past 60 years collecting masterpieces of American paintings, sculpture, and decorative art both for his company and foundation and personally. He united these collections in 2003 by founding the Westervelt-Warner Museum of American Art in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Working together through the Westervelt-Warner Museum and The Warner Foundation, Jack Warner and his wife Susan Austin have sought to enrich the community and the nation through educational programming and outreach programs such as the Annual Jack Warner Symposium on American Art. Susan and Jack continue to lead The Warner Foundation in managing and touring important works previously in the collection of the Westervelt-Warner Museum, which closed in 2011. These works, which include icons of 18th- and 19th-century American painting, have traveled recently to the New Britain Museum of American Art (Connecticut) and the Arthur Ross Gallery (University of Pennsylvania). The Warner Foundation promotes the use of American art to enhance the teaching of American history.
The Jack and Susan Warner Gallery in the Metropolitan Museum’s New American Wing focuses on the Emergence of the Hudson River School, 1825–50, and showcases works by such artists as Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, John William Casilear, and John Frederick Kensett, among others.
A special black-tie gala to celebrate the foundation’s gift and the Warners’ achievements will be held on April 4, 2012, in Tuscaloosa. The Metropolitan Museum will also host a Jack Warner Lecture Series devoted to American art, funded in part by The Warner Foundation, beginning later this year.