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MOCA Remembers Chara Schreyer

Image by Star Montana.

MOCA Remembers Chara Schreyer

Apr 28 2023

MOCA is deeply saddened by the passing of Chara Schreyer, a member of the museum’s Board of Trustees since 2015, a leading global art collector, and a dynamic philanthropist who supported art, artists, and institutions that challenge the status quo. MOCA was fortunate to have Chara’s friendship and service, and extend our condolences to her family and friends at this time.

“Chara Schreyer was a force,” said Johanna Burton, the Maurice Marciano Director of MOCA. “She was a fearless, passionate advocate for bold ideas, and always the first to step up to help make them happen. Her impact on contemporary art will continue to resonate and inform the field.”

Chara’s personal collection centered on paradigm shifts, an idea that she referred to as “making strange”—artworks that tested the bounds of art, their own mediums, or our understanding. Her impressive collection includes important works by Ruth Asawa, Louis Bourgeois, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Gober, Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, and Louise Nevelson, among many other significant artists of our time. She documented her homes, collection of contemporary art, and collecting philosophy in various books including Making Strange: The Chara Schreyer Collection (2019) and Art House: The Collaboration of Chara Schreyer and Gary Hutton (2016).

“Chara was a legendary collector, visionary and advocate for artists. Her legacy will long be remembered for her vision, passion, and generosity,” said Maria Seferian, Chair of the MOCA Board of Trustee. “Chara personified the spirit of MOCA: artist-focused, curious, challenging the status quo, and fearless. We mourn her loss and are forever grateful for her embrace of MOCA and for the inspiration that she’s provided for so many.”

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chara made a major contribution to the MOCA Thrive Fund to enable virtual programming and connections centered around art. This critical and timely gift allowed MOCA to continue to reinvigorate our digital initiatives and interactive public programs in the face of pandemic-related challenges, serving diverse audiences with programs involving over forty artists from a diverse range of disciplines including performance, video art, and social practice.

Chara gifted two dozen works of art to MOCA. This includes three already iconic sculptures by Lauren Halsey, one of which, Briccs 2, 2020, was included in the 2022 exhibition Our House: Selections from MOCA’s Collection and instantly became an audience favorite. Additionally, the room-sized sculpture Le Pain Symbiotique, 2014, by Anicka Yi was a central feature of the museum’s 40th anniversary exhibition The Foundation of the Museum: MOCA’s Collection in 2019. In 2018, Robert Morris’ felt sculpture, Untitled, 1967, hung in another collection exhibition as a soft counterpoint to minimalism in a room built to showcase materiality and form. Chara also gifted suites of work from the established likes of Joseph Beuys to the new vanguard of Kayode Ojo. She supported acquisitions of works by Liz Larner and Daniel Lefcourt, and has promised gifts to MOCA by artists including Josh Kline, Aria Dean, Gedi Sibony, Buck Ellison, and Mohammed Sami. Ultimately, Chara’s collecting style was reflected in her gifts to the museum, grounded in an intellectual approach, challenging conventions, and building a legacy at MOCA.