FRISSON: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection.

I wouldn’t know the details on how Jane Lang Davis and Richard Lang met. I do know that they fell in love and collected art together as a couple and as a team.

FRISSON is a French term with meanings ranging from thrill to shiver. It is the feeling that gives you goosebumps. And it is the title of an exhibition of the paintings, sculptures and drawings Jane and Richard collected over the course of a dozen years from 1970 to 1982.

To B.W.T.,1952, Philpe Guston

The Lang’s were Seattleites. In an era when the roller bag had yet to be invented, they traveled from our darkened woods to the illuminated jewel of Manhattan. There, they hunted treasure.

It is our good fortune that they dug up pieces, often in pairs, from Lee Krasner, Alberto Giacometti, Adolph Gottlieb, Alice Neel, Clyfford Still, Francis Bacon, and that guy from Pittsburg, Andy Warhol. These pieces are now part of Seattle Art Museum’s permanent collection, many are on view in the galleries for the first time.

Study For A Portrait, 1967, Francis Bacon

The bulk of the pieces are Abstract Expressionist works from the years after World War Two. The Lang’s gravitated to big pieces with monochromatic or darker palettes–muted reds, blacks, and yellows. The pieces are beautiful in themselves. Artists, such as Robert Motherwell and Philip Guston, have two pieces each in the collection, often created years apart. There is a pleasure in the visual tennis of comparing and contrasting paintings from a single brush that often appear radically different.

Richard Lang died in 1982. Jane Lang Davis stopped collecting. The activity was something built out of their love. It couldn’t be sustained alone.

Night Watch, 1960, Lee Krassner

This new exhibition runs from October 15th, 2021 to November 27th, 2022.


Photos: CLaire Renaut.