The Rose Art Museum Announces a Gift of 50 Important Works on Paper from Collector Stephen Salny

(Waltham, MA. February, 2020) - The Rose Art Museum is pleased to announce the gift of 50 works on paper from Baltimore-based collector Stephen Salny. This gift includes pieces by some of today’s leading artists and significantly includes a number of works by Ellsworth Kelly, as well as pieces by Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Sonia Delaunay, Helen Frankenthaler, Damien Hirst, Jasper Johns, Alex Katz, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Motherwell, Richard Serra, and Frank Stella. Many of the works enrich already existing clusters of work by the same artists while others are new to the Rose’s permanent collection.

“We are delighted and deeply grateful to receive this generous gift,” says Luis A. Croquer, the Henry and Lois Foster Director and Chief Curator. “A major gift, such as this one, helps us to deepen and expand our holdings and also signals to the wider community that the Rose Collection continues to be a significant repository of modern and contemporary art in our area. I know that Steve, a seasoned collector with a sharp and knowing eye, chose the Rose intentionally, both honoring his personal connection to the museum while fully acknowledging the depth and quality of our collection.” 

Stephen Salny, a Boston native, is a collector, author, lecturer, and businessman. He built and ran the 819 Gallery in Baltimore for emerging contemporary artists and ceramicists from 1986 to 1994. Mr. Salny plays an active role in the Baltimore Museum of Art, where he has been a member of the accessions committee for contemporary art, the Museum Council, and the Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art. He also is a longtime board member of the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, which commissions site-specific American art for new U.S. embassies around the world. Among other publications, he is the author of The Country Houses of David Adler, Frances Elkins: Interior Design, Michael Taylor: Interior Design, and William Hodgins Interiors. Mr. Salny has also written several articles focusing on the subjects of his books for Architectural Digest.

Mr. Salny began collecting when he graduated from college. His first purchase was Josef Albers’s JHM I, Edition 144. Over the last four decades his collection grew to include pieces by leading modern and contemporary artists. Aside from the artists previously mentioned, the collection also includes works by Helen Frankenthaler, Damien Hirst, Jasper Johns, Sol LeWitt, Brice Marden, and Robert Motherwell. Stephen Salny grew up surrounded by art and antiques in the homes of his parents, grandparents, and great-grandmother, nurturing his interest in the arts. “Since childhood, I have been passionate about art, architecture, and interior design,” says Mr. Salny.

While Mr. Salny originally intended to make his gift as a bequest upon his death, he generously accelerated the timing after initially giving the Rose eight works, prompted by his faith in the Rose’s programming and mission. “Since childhood, I have been passionate about art, architecture, and interior design,” says Salny. About ten years ago, on a visit to the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, he decided the Rose was where he wanted his art to live. “I was walking up the steps,” he says, “and I had this instant thought: ‘This is where my art is going.’” 

The Salny family has a long and historic connection to Brandeis University. His grandfather, Samuel M. Salny, was an active and prominent supporter of the university from the days of its founding in 1948. Together with his wife, Rae, they established one of the earliest endowed fellowships for graduate studies at the university. June Salny, the donor’s mother, had attended talks and symposia at the Rose and exposed him to the arts at an early age, continuing in part through programs led by Lois Foster, a former Board chair and ardent supporter of the museum. 

Eleven Ellsworth Kelly lithographs dating from 1970 to 2012 are part of this gift and include Blue-Green (1970), Green Curve (1999), and Dartmouth (2011); they join other works by the artist in the collection, including Kelly’s landmark painting Blue White from 1962, an iconic piece in the Rose collection. Additionally, four prints by Robert Motherwell—Djarum (1975), Red Open With White Line (1979), Summer Trident (1990), and The Black Wall (1981)—are a significant addition to the Rose’s collection, joining Motherwell’s painting, Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 58 (1957–61) and other works in the collection. Helen Frankenthaler’s aquatint Ganymede (1978) and etching Sunshine After Rain (1987) add to the museum’s holdings by the artist, who had a major exhibition at the museum in the 1981 and whose work, Yellow Line (1982), was recently on view in the exhibition Into Form: Selections from the Rose Collection, 1957-2018.


The Rose Art Museum has been dedicated to exhibiting and collecting modern and contemporary art at Brandeis University since 1961. With its highly respected international collection of more than 9,000 objects, scholarly exhibitions, and multidisciplinary academic and public programs, the Rose affirms and advances the values of freedom of expression, global diversity, and social justice that are the hallmarks of Brandeis University. The museum recently announced that they will now be open year round. They recently added works by Betye Saar, Joe Overstreet, Haris Epaminonda, Martine Gutierrez, Pieter Vermeersch to their collection. The museum is always free and open to the public, and is located 20 minutes from downtown Boston. 

For more information call 781-736-3434. Follow the Rose Art Museum on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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