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Local Museums Receive $40M Art Bequest

Former La Jollans Dr. Vance E. Kondon and his wife Elisabeth Geisberger gifted art to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the San Diego Museum of Art.

The and the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park recently received a gift valued at more than $40 million. The late Dr. Vance E. Kondon and his wife Elisabeth Giesberger left a bequest of an extensive private art collection. Kondon and Geisberger, former La Jollans, gave 30 pieces of art collected over 30 years to MCASD alone. Kondon was a well-known gynecologist and obstetrician. He had a private practice in Pacific Beach for more than 40 years.

Kondon was one of San Diego’s premier art collectors and an avid supporter of the city’s cultural scene, according to the MCASD. His collection ranged from figurative works from the early 20th century to abstract pieces from the 1950s forward, it said.

Kondon served several turns on MCASD’s Board of Trustees from 1971 to 1981. The Museum has two locations: one downtown San Diego and another here in La Jolla.

MCASD received works of contemporary art from the 1950s to the early 1980s, including two large-scale paintings by Robert Ryman, a multi-panel work by Brice Marden, and a minimalist canvas by Robert Mangold. The gift also includes a rare proto-pop Roy Lichenstein canvas, drawings by Franz Kline and Mark Tobey, abstractions by Piero Manzoni, Ad Dekkers, Christo and Jules Olitski.

“True museum collections are built upon this type of generous philanthropy,” said Hugh Davies, the CEO of MCASD in an annoucnement. “As a past board member, Vance Kondon’s collection represents the sensibilities of the museum and its commitment to reductive abstraction. Simple receiving Robert Ryman’s canvas, Cable, would have been gift enough, but Vance Kondon went further by gifting 30 works that together reflect his legacy even as they expand upon the Museum’s own identity. We are truly honored to receive this incredible gift.”

Kondon also had a history of loaning his collection to local venues, including MCASD, formerly known as the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art and the San Diego Museum of Art.

Kondon died in 1997 and Geisberger passed away in 2011.

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