The foundation was established by Emily Hall Tremaine. She and her husband Burton G. Tremaine, Sr., were collectors of 20th century art with an emphasis on work done by artists after 1945. Their collection of more than 400 works was of such quality and scope that it embodied some of the best paintings of the century. Artists in their collection included Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. However, at the time the Tremaines began to purchase their works, these innovative artists were not yet recognized by the art world.
Born in Butte, Montana, on January 31, 1908, Emily inherited a love of art from her mother, which was fostered by frequent visits to museums and art galleries both in the United States and in Europe. From her father, she inherited an analytical mind. As a result, when she reached adulthood, she had the ability to assess art both emotionally and intellectually.
The Tremaine art collection was widely considered to be one of the finest reflections of contemporary art in the nation until it was sold to create the asset base for the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation. It stood as a visual testament to the refined and courageous taste of its collectors, Burton and Emily Hall Tremaine.
Emily Hall Tremaine's artistic vision helped her to collect works from artists who at the time were just starting to define contemporary art. Together, the Tremaines selected works that would be seminal for successive generations of artists and art collectors. The collection in its entirety, in the words of Robert Rosenblum, invoked "new constellations of meaning and importance." It broke with tradition and convention yet conveyed a sense of spirituality and contemplation. Its complexity offered many layers of meaning and insight to the viewer.
Emily established the foundation prior to her death in 1987, but the bulk of the funds were provided by the sale of most of the collection at two auctions in 1988 and 1991. Interested in encouraging greater family unity, she intentionally left the choice of focus areas to the first and second generations of the Tremaines. As she had hoped, the fledgling foundation brought the family together under the leadership of Burton G. Tremaine, Jr., the first chair of the board, as well as Sally Bowles, who joined the Foundation in 1993 as its first president.
Choosing to reflect in their grant-making Emily Hall Tremaine’s distinction for foresight, imagination, and risk taking, the board of directors chose Learning Disabilities, the Arts, and the Environment as their three focus areas. Through the development of strong focus area strategies, the Foundation is committed to carrying on Emily Hall Tremaine’s legacy.
To purchase Emily Hall Tremaine: Collector on the Cusp, a biography by Kathleen L. Housley, please visit Amazon.