Seattle Art Museum Celebrates the Cultural Legacy of Paul Allen

Some people remember Paul Allen as a great tech pioneer. For others, it was more recent endeavors like his efforts to map the brain, save the elephants or as the owner of the Trail Blazers and Seahawks. But not everyone may be familiar with Allen's appreciation for art.

Through his life, Allen built one of the most significant private collections in the United States. This wasn't motivated by aesthetic appeal or investment value, but rather, he believed great art helps us see the world around us a little differently and can often provide a sense of purpose and fresh perspectives.

As part of a year-long exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, the public will get a chance to see some of the most significant pieces from Allen's collection.

“Paul Allen was a tireless champion of art with an incredible commitment to [Seattle]. His cultural legacy surrounds us,” says Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO. “We’re honored to have this opportunity to present this series of paintings that reflect his appreciation for extraordinary art, and his belief that art connects us to each other and to the world.”

The iterative single-painting exhibition features works by Lucian Freud (July 24-Nov. 18), Sandro Botticelli (Nov. 27-March 23, 2020), and Georgia O’Keeffe (March 5-June 28, 2020). On view one-at-time, the paintings will connect thematically to other work at the museum.

This isn't the first time, pieces from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection have been on view at the museum. In 2017, Allen lent 39 works from his collection for Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, an exhibition co-organized by SAM, the Portland Art Museum, and the collection. The exhibition showcased key moments in the development of the landscape genre, which Allen hoped would “inspire people to renew their commitment to protecting Earth’s natural beauty for generations to come.”

“Art demands something of us: to slow down, to view the world differently, to see ideas and possibilities previously unknown,” said Greg Bell, Chief Curator, Art Collections at Vulcan. “We are grateful to be able to share these works with the Seattle Art Museum and our community, so that we may continue to enrich the arts and culture of the region.”

Lucian Freud, "Large Interior W11 (After Watteau)," 1981-83. Oil on Canvas
Georgia O'Keeffe, "White Rose with Larkspur No. 1," 1927. Oil on canvas
Sandro Botticelli, "The Madonna of the Magnificat," c. 1480-1489. Tempera on panel.