Robert and Malena Puterbaugh donated the photograph of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera with their dog, which was taken by Sternberger in Mexico City in 1952. It will be on view Sept. 30 – Jan. 7.
“Anne Tucker was a very special person to all of us at the Polk Museum of Art,” Robert Puterbaugh said. “I will always appreciate her tremendous dedication to the museum, and her strong support of the recent affiliation with Florida Southern College.”
Tucker, who died on May 26 at age 88, was a founder of the museum’s Art Resource Trust. She served as president of the Board of Trustees in 1984-85, and as chair of the Board of Governors in 1990-91. She also served on the Strategic Visioning Committee and chaired the Museum History Committee. In 2008, she was the ninth recipient of the museum’s Harrison-Hooks Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Our family is genuinely touched by this extraordinary gift,” said Peggy McKeel, Tucker’s daughter. “We thank Bob and Malena Puterbaugh sincerely for their generosity to the Polk Museum of Art and their many years of friendship. The museum meant so much to our mother and we are indeed grateful that her legacy of love for the museum will live on through this kind and thoughtful tribute.”
When displayed, the donated photograph will carry the notation, “In memory of Anne Tucker, recipient of the 2008 Harrison-Hooks Lifetime Achievement Award, Polk Museum of Art.”
The photograph, which is the first Sternberger piece for the museum, is a welcomed addition to its Permanent Collection, which focuses on figurative art.
“The theme of this work fits perfectly with our new collecting focus, in that it is a very fine portrait, and portraiture is one important aspect of the depiction of the figure,” said Executive Director Claire Orogolas. “Within our Permanent Collection, we also have a strong collection of photography, including examples of great portraiture. This gift will certainly strengthen that segment of our collection even more.”
Sternberger was well known during his career, but became overshadowed by others over time until recently, Orogolas said.
“During this time when his photographs are coming back to light, so to speak, it’s wonderful to have one in our collection for our community to enjoy,” she said.
Sternberger is among the celebrated Pictorialists of the 1900s who photographed portraits of some of the most celebrated people of their age as they expressed poignant emotions that made them seem human and approachable. His photographs are marked by the subjects’ lively expressions revealed through minimalist lighting.
Sternberger and his wife Ilse moved to Mexico in 1952, and became friends with Rivera and Kahlo, who were known for their self-portraits. Rivera once told Sternberger his photographs were, “The first time I have seen the real me … behind the mask I have all the time,” according to “The Psychological Portrait: Marcel Sternberger’s Revelations in Photography.”