Sonnabend Family Donates Rauschenberg Work to MoMA


The family of art dealer Ileana Sonnabend, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 92, has donated Robert Rauschenberg’s Canyon (1959) to the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

One of the most prominent contemporary art dealers of the 20th century, Sonnabend ran an eponymous gallery in Paris for over 40 years. She was a primary force in the introduction of postwar American art to European collectors. Sonnabend Gallery, opened in 1971, was one of the earliest galleries in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. In addition to Rauschenberg, Sonnabend represented such artists as Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol and Gilbert & George.

Canyon is one of Rauschenberg’s famed Combines, a term coined by the artist to describe his works that fuse found objects with painted canvas surfaces. Canyon joins five others currently in the museum’s collection: Bed (1955), Rebus (1955), Rhyme (1956), Factum II (1957) and First Landing Jump (1961).

In a press release, Glenn D. Lowry, the director of MoMA, said of the gift, “Canyon is a glorious landmark of 20th-century art. We are profoundly grateful to the family of Ileana Sonnabend for this extraordinarily important addition to MoMA’s collection, which will be enjoyed by generations of visitors to the museum.”