For Students


The Rounick Gift of Contemporary Art

Mark Kostabi
ca. 1986
Gift of Jack and Noreen Rounick, 2004/2.100

When Jack and Noreen Rounick’s daughter Michelle chose to attend the University of Michigan, Jack was thrilled that she selected his alma mater. He graduated from UM in 1956 with a degree in business. Michelle’s choice afforded Jack an opportunity to become reacquainted with his school, and his strong interest in art led him to the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Not long after their first visit during Michelle’s freshman year, Jack and Noreen decided to donate some artworks from their collection to the Museum.

The Rounicks began acquiring art on their honeymoon in Hawaii in 1970. On that trip they purchased a couple of pieces from an artist and poet by the name of Bilow. After that initial foray, the Rounicks began collecting work by other artists such as Margaret Keane, Jack Lord, and Seikichi Takara, also in Hawaii. Expanding into the New York art scene, they collected works by Andy Warhol, Rodney Greenblat, Kenny Scharf, and Keith Haring.

In 1982 the Rounicks opened their own gallery and sold and collected work by a wide range of artists. “For each one we sold we probably bought two,” says Jack. They subsequently merged their gallery with Martin Lawrence (no relation to the existing Martin Lawrence Galleries) and continued to expand the roster of artists they represented and collected, which would eventually include Frank Stella, Peter Halley, Victor Vasarely, R. C. Gorman, Shusaku Arakawa, Arthur Gibbons, Todd Siler, Peter Schuyf, James Welling, Robert Motherwell, and Roy Lichtenstein. “Our love of travel and our love of art sort of merged,” Jack Rounick said.

Their first donation to UMMA, Beverly Pepper’s seminal Ternary Marker (1988), given in 2003, marked only the beginning of the Rounicks’ generosity to this Museum. Pepper’s important life-sized abstracted figural bronze was followed in 2004 by a gift of more than 100 works of art, reflecting the full breadth and depth of their collection. Among them were Erwin Binder’s large Requiem and several smaller sculptures by Claes Oldenburg, Mark Kostabi, and Hiro Yamagata. A particular strength of their collection, now nicely represented in UMMA’s holdings, is work by artists active in New York’s East Village in the 1980s, including CRASH, Futura 2000, Laurie Simmons, Kenny Scharff, and Rodney Greenblat, the latter an artist the Rounicks collected in depth. The presence of these works at UMMA offers scholars and Museum visitors a glimpse into this important late twentieth-century art movement.