History and Collection

Who was Jorge B. Vargas?

Photo from Vargas Archives and Memorabilia Collection

Photo from Vargas Archives and Memorabilia Collection

Jorge B. Vargas (1890-1980) was the country’s first Executive Secretary, having served this position during the Commonwealth period.

On March 1, 1978, Mr. Jorge B. Vargas donated his collection of art, stamps and coins, his library, personal papers and memorabilia to his Alma Mater, the University of the Philippines.

In 1983, the University of the Philippines laid the cornerstone for a building that would house Mr. Vargas’ collection, originally displayed in a private museum located in the premises of his residence at the Kawilihan compound in Mandaluyong. The transfer of the objects to the Diliman campus began in 1986. The museum building was formally inaugurated by then President Corazon C. Aquino on February 22, 1987.

A center for Philippine art and culture, its main thrusts are research, exhibition and education.

The Jorge B. Vargas Collections

Signing of the deed of donation in 1978. Image from the Vargas Archives

Signing of the deed of donation in 1978. Image from the Vargas Archives

The Jorge B. Vargas Art Collection consists of oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, drawings, and sculptures consisting of Philippine artistic creativity from the 1880s to the 1960s.

Among the collection are works by late 19th century artists such as Lorenzo Guerrero, Simon Flores, Juan Luna, and Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo. From a later period include paintings done in the 1930s and 1940s most notably by Fabian de la Rosa and Fernando Amorsolo. There are also artworks by Jorge Pineda, Vicente Rivera y Mir and other artists which were referred to as belonging to the “Amorsolo School.” The collection also boasts of modernist works such as those of Victorio Edades, Juan Aralleno, Diosdado Lorenzo, Vicente Manansala along with contemporaries who were active in the 1950s.

The Museum collection also comprises of outstanding works by women artists, recognized masters of semi-figurative art, UP graduates of the 1950s and 1960s and editorial drawings, cartoons, and caricatures. It includes sculptural pieces of Guillermo Tolentino and Graciano Nepomuceno, among other sculptors.

Through this collection, Vargas Museum aims to contribute towards the appreciation of the country’s artistic heritage and to foster an awareness of the history of Philippine art.

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Discussion

One thought on “History and Collection

  1. Hi I’m interested in visiting your museum, also I’d like to know if you house exhibits of Vicente Rivera y Mir? And where to find it?

    Posted by Miguel de guzman | March 23, 2017, 8:07 pm

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ADVISORY: In compliance with the announcement from Chancellor Michael Tan, the museum will be closed today, 23 April 2019. Summer Art Workshop with Mr. Fernando Sena is also suspended today. Inquiries: vargasmuseum@up.edu.ph
ADVISORY: In observance of the Lenten season, the museum will be closed on 17 April, 12 noon to 20 April 2019. Viewing of galleries and office operations will resume on 23 April 2019. Inquiries: vargasmuseum@up.edu.ph
Revisiting the Conservative 2019 Vargas Museum Art History Series Exhibition 3F Galleries 16 April - 15 June 2019 The Vargas Museum returns with its fifth iteration of its Art History Series exhibiting works from the Vargas collection curated based on art historical methods. The series strengthens the museum's efforts to continuously situate and contextualize its collection within today's social setting through the interaction between curatorship and art history. Revisiting the Conservative presents the realist traditions of painting idyllic scenes and themes exploring the Philippine landscape from the 1940s to the 1970s. The conservative as a category marks a particular stylistic tendency in Philippine art history. In terms of source, it can be traced to the academic realism of the nineteenth century that found its most prominent articulation in the exalted works of Fernando Amorsolo. It has been cast as a binary opposite of modernism as advocated by the practice of such artists as Diosdado Lorenzo and Victorio Edades. A body of polemical texts and institutional history sustains this interpretation even as the binary might not hold under a closer reading of the works and a more thoughtful appreciation of the artistic biographies of the practitioners, who slip in and out or even away from art history's order of things. In the possession of the collection of Jorge Vargas is a trove of pieces that exemplifies this conservative disposition. The latter would later be identified, or even conflated, with commercial art sold on Mabini Street, thus the term "Mabini Art". The exhibition scans the shift of realism in Philippine art as well as expressions of the supposed antithesis of the privileged modern. The exhibition consists of works by artists such as Elias Laxa, Romeo Enriquez, Cesar Buenaventura, Crispin Lopez, Serafin Serna, Miguel Galvez, Isidro Ancheta, Antonio Dumlao, Wenceslao Garcia, Gabriel Custodio, Ben Alano, Simon Saulog, and Diosdado Lorenzo. It also features a screening of the film Mga Uod at Rosas (1982), directed by Romy Suzara and written by Edgardo M. Reyes.
The Study Guide for The Nature of the Collection is now available for download: bit.ly/VMStudyGuideNature To view and download Study Guides for 2019, please visit: bit.ly/UPVMStudyGuides2019 The guides are designed for discussions and activities for classes in Humanities, Social Sciences, and other fields related to the exhibitions. It is encouraged that course tutors/teachers have a pre-visit to the exhibitions before the class’s actual visit. The study guides may be reproduced.
ADVISORY: The museum will be closed on 9 April 2019, Tuesday, in observance of Araw ng Kagitingan. However, the workshop area will be open for the 2019 Summer Art Workshop by Fernando Sena. Office operations and viewing of galleries resume on 10 April, Wednesday. Inquiries: vargasmuseum@up.edu.ph
ADVISORY: The museum will close early at 1 PM on 6 April 2019, Saturday for scheduled fumigation of galleries and offices. Interested participants of the 2019 Summer Art Workshop by Fernando Sena are encouraged to complete their registration this week. Office operations and viewing of galleries for next week will resume on 10 April, Wednesday. Inquiries: vargasmuseum@up.edu.ph

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