In the early 1970s, Donald and Maria Cox purchased an oil painting by Giorgio Cavallon, cementing a passion that would result in three decades of collecting. With a focus on contemporary art, or “the art of our time,” much like MOCA Jacksonville's mission, the Coxes amassed almost one hundred objects, spanning from the late 1950s to 1999 and in all media. While living in New York City afforded them unparalleled opportunities to see art and connect with artists firsthand, the works in Breaking Ground: The Donald and Maria Cox Collection serve as a visual diary of their interests and innovations in twentieth century art.
By juxtaposing paintings, prints, and sculptures and disregarding chronology, Breaking Ground presents aesthetic relationships across media and exposes overlapping concepts at the core of both the Museum's and Coxes' collections. Gesture and the evolution of mark-making reverberate throughout Breaking Ground - from Joan Mitchell's fleeting strokes to a patterned silkscreen by Jasper Johns. Similarly, Ilya Bolotowsky and Frank Stella champion precise geometries and minimal, hard-edges. Whereas Joel Shapiro sets lines in motion in an emotive charcoal and gouache drawing, suggestive of a figure balancing in space, they come to life in his bronze sculpture. As Breaking Ground offers entry points into each artist's signature style, the Coxes' generous gift transforms the Permanent Collection, promising to enrich our understanding of the art of our time.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.