Woven Sculptures and Baskets Donated to MAD

"Spell of the Green Lizard" 1995 / Artist: Carol Eckert / Cotton, wire, 11 1/2" x 7 1/2" x 3 1/2"

A rare collection of contemporary baskets including functional vessels as well as expressive works that challenge traditional definitions of basketry, has been promised to the Museum of Arts and Design by Sara and David Lieberman. With their passion for collecting contemporary craft and their exceptional openness to new forms and ideas, the Liebermans have assembled one of the best compilations of contemporary baskets in the country. Their collection will be presented for the first time in New York in the exhibition Intertwined: Contemporary Baskets from the Sara and David Lieberman Collection, from March 16, 2010 and through September 12, 2010 at the Museum of Arts and Design.

“We are thrilled and grateful to be receiving this major gift from Sara and David Lieberman. Their collection is exceptional in its distinction and quality,” states Holly Hotchner the Museum’s Nanette L. Laitman Director. “The Lieberman collection offers an expansive overview of the current level of innovation and experimentation in the field. This material gets right to the heart of the intersection between craft, art, and design.”

Intertwined provides an international overview of an art form that is a fascinating blend of ancient and contemporary. The exhibition includes more than 70 traditional and non-traditional works, tracing the evolution of the basket from a useful object to a work of art that can have expressive, sculptural, and conceptual significance. The baskets utilize a range of materials from traditional organic fibers to surprising media such as zippers and fish skins.

Sara Lieberman states, “The field of contemporary basketry continues to interest and intrigue us. Talented artists working with a wide variety of material, both new and traditional, transform utilitarian containers into sculpture. Forms shrink or grow in size; colors remain muted or enliven with bold hues; and extraordinary skill combines with imagination, political and social commentary, playfulness, and great beauty. Is it any wonder that we love baskets?”

Sara and David Lieberman’s interest in baskets has coincided with a fifteen-year period of innovation and energy in the field. They first began acquiring baskets for their function and grounding in ancient traditions, but soon their selections included new works of great “vitality and vigor” that were more about “expression and communication” rather than function. The Lieberman collection now includes work by Ed Rossbach, Katherine Westphal, Sally Black, Kiyomi Iwata, Kazuaki Honma, Dorothy Gill Barnes, Carol Eckert, John McQueen, Elsie Holiday, Ferne Jacobs, Norma Minkowitz, Fran Reed, Lisa Telford, Kay Kahn, and many more.

David Revere McFadden, MAD Chief Curator, said, “People will be surprised to see such an incredible diversity of approaches to this ancient art forms. The Lieberman collection furthers MAD’s focus on materials and process, and the many ways in which tradition is being explored and renovated in the work of artists around the world.”

The collection also includes multiple works by John McQueen, whose background is in sculpture and who incorporates large figurative forms and text; Jane Sauer, who has championed the field; Gyöngy Laky, who brings a theoretical edge to the work; and John Garrett, who has been a noted experimenter with industrial materials. The Liebermans have also collected Japanese bamboo works and those made by Native American artists.

Intertwined: Contemporary Baskets from the Sara and David Lieberman Collection is organized by the Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona, and curated by Senior Curator Heather S. Lineberry and Jane Sauer, nationally known basket maker and scholar. The exhibition is coordinated at MAD by Assistant Curator Laura Stern. The presentation of the exhibition at MAD is made possible, in part, through the generosity of the Inner Circle, a leadership Museum support group.

Intertwined: Contemporary Baskets from the Sara and David Lieberman Collection is accompanied by a 48-page fully-illustrated color catalog which includes an essay by nationally-known curator and scholar Kenneth R. Trapp, former Curator for the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Museum and the Oakland Museum of California and a short piece by Los Angeles artist Ferne Jacobs. The Intertwined exhibition includes work by San Francisco Bay Area-based pioneers in the field including Ed Rossbach, Kay Sekimachi, Lillian Elliot, Gyöngy Laky, and Katherine Westphal. Among the 70 works in the exhibition is traditional work by Native Americans and innovative work by major contemporary figures, expanding the very definition of a basket. These artists include Dorothy Gill Barnes, Carol Eckert, John McQueen, Ferne Jacobs, Norma Minkowitz, John Garrett, and others. The exhibition also features exceptional holdings by masters from Japan, including Nagakura Kenichi, Jiro Yonezawa, Hisako Sekijima, and Yamaguchi Ryuün.

"Intertwined will be a visual feast with highly textural, colorful and boldly shaped sculptural forms suspended from the ceiling and hung on walls, in addition to traditional settings," added Lineberry. "The exhibition and its accompanying catalog, with essays by Kenneth R. Trapp and Ferne Jacobs, provide an international look at contemporary basket-making and its current level of innovation and experimentation." Other artists in the exhibition include Kate Anderson, Dail Behennah, Nancy Moore Bess, Mary Black, Sally Black, Jerry Bleem, Jan Buckman, Jane Chavez, Jill Nordfors Clark, Noboru Fujinuma, Shokosai Hayakawa, Elsie Holiday, Hideaki Honma, Kazuaki Honma, Jan Hopkins, Lissa Hunter, Kiyoma Iwata, Nancy Koenigsberg, Leon Niehues, Pearl Nuvangyaoma, Lindsay Ketterer Gates, Fran Reed, Hideho Tanaka, Tsuruko Tanikawa, Lisa Telford, Maseo Ueno, Dawn Walden, and Mika Watanabe.


  1. Exceptional! An amazing collection, and an exhibition worth seeing. MAD, you are lucky indeed.

  2. I'm sorry if this isn't a good place to ask, but I recently inherited a very unusual basket that is signed "M. Henton 9153". I'm just wondering if anyone may know anything about it, or maybe could recommend a book to get more information. The basket was obviously made by someone very talented -- I just love it, but as I am a new basket collector, I am a little afraid of it (as in not sure how to care for it or properly display it). The person who left the basket to me travelled quite a lot between America, England, Australia and New Zealand and collected all sorts of wonderful things (I have many, and am feeling a little overwhelmed by it all, but enjoying learning about all these fabulous pieces of art). Again, I apologize if this is the wrong place to post -- just hoping I could get on the right track for learning about my basket! :)


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