Businessman, George Wells to Donate Seven-Figure Gift to Morehouse College
By artist Rashid Johnson
Founder and Chairman of Wells Group of New York and Chief Financial Officer George Wells, has pledged a major gift to his alma-mater Morehouse College. Wells, who graduated from Morehouse in May 2000, has spent the past two years amassing a collection with a focus on identity politics and racial inequality. Three major works that will be included in this initial gift to Morehouse are McArthur Binion’s DNA: Study, 2020, Rashid Johnson’s Untitled Broken Men, 2020, Amy Sherald, Handsome, 2020 and more. Not yet purchased works will include several works by artist Mickalene Thomas, a painting by Ivy Haldeman, and several other artists.
George Wells stated: “I will always be grateful for my Morehouse education and the springboard it created for my career on Wall Street and in business, and I want to recognize that with this gift. Owning multiple works by Johnson and Thomas is like owning a piece of history to me. Their practices both showcase black resiliency and triumph but in different ways and from different gender perspectives. It is my hope that this gift will serve as an impetus for furthering racial equality within the art world during this exceptionally vulnerable time for Americans and race relations.”
Having begun their collection in 2018, George Wells and husband Manfred Rantner have built a collection of over 50 works of some of the most significant artists working today.
The collection comprises a diverse group of emerging and established artists, many of whom have or are shaping the future of image-making today.
The collection is focused primarily on artists that are working towards an expanded notion of representation – one that encompasses art history, individual and shared cultural identity, personal narrative, materiality, and social and political critique. Ranging from photography to painting, from portraiture to abstraction, The Wells Collection offers a comprehensive look at the significant role art plays in a society that has undergone (and is undergoing) dramatic change.
Featuring work by McArthur Binion, Sam Gilliam, and Jack Whitten, the collection digs into the history of black artists working primarily in abstraction during the 1970s as well as others like Mary Corse and Gunther Forg who were at the forefront of pushing abstraction into more conceptual modes of making.
The collection highlights a younger generation of artists from diverse backgrounds, Charles Gaines, Rashid Johnson, Lauren Halsey, Nari Ward, Mandy El-Sayegh, Angel Otero, and Teresita Fernandez who have expanded their exploration of abstraction and conceptualism to incorporate diverse media and subject matter that ranges from the personal to the political to the environmental.
The collection also features artists who are known for their figurative work, inviting a more nuanced understanding of identity and subjectivity. Mickalene Thomas, Hernan Bas, Catherine Opie, Tyler Mitchell, and Wolfgang Tillmans are all known for making work that critiques traditional representation in order to make space for those often relegated to the margins.