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Beth Van Hoesen Adams Works Gifted to AMUM

The Art Museum at the University of Memphis is honored to be selected to receive a generous gift from the E. Mark Adams and Beth Van Hoesen Adams Trust. 

Valued at over $57,000 the gift of 32 lithographs and drypoints, created by an intaglio (cut below the surface) printmaking technique involving the use of needles that scratch lines directly into a metal plate, is a strong addition to the Museum’s permanent collections. Van Hoesen Adams’s prints are valued by collectors and museums for her ability to simplify her subjects to their very essence. Twentieth century and contemporary prints are one of our primary collection areas that enable us to education our students and patrons on the study of printmaking.

Best known for her fanciful portraits of a wide variety of animals, Van Hoesen Adams a world-renowned artist with numerous exhibitions in the United States, is currently represented in major collections around the world, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

“When I draw an animal, I sit quietly, studying its movements, watching for the attitudes and positions that are unique to the particular animal,” Van Hoesen Adams said in her notes from Creatures, 1987. “I look for poses that may be held for some time or returned to frequently. Often the studies start with many line drawings – small full figures or details of heads, paws – those things I think I need to study to understand.”

Born in 1926, Van Hoesen Adams earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University in 1948. While earning her degree, she extended her education and attended classes at the Escuela de Pintura y Escultura de la Escuela Esmeralda in Mexico City and the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco (now the San Francisco Art Institute). After graduation, she studied in France at the Ecole des Beaux Arts de Fontainebleau, the Académie Julian and Académie de la Grand Chaumière.

She was married for 52 years to fellow artists Mark Adams, a tapestry and stainedglass designer best known for the windows for Temple Emanu-El, San Francisco’s largest synagogue, and the stained glass at Grace Episcopal Cathedral on Nob Hill. Adams passed away in 2006.

Van Hoesen Adams became a major figure in 20th century printmaking with solo exhibitions at many well-respected museums and institutions. In 1981, she was presented the Award of Honor in Graphics from the San Fancisco Arts Commission, and in 1993, she received the Distinguished Artist Award from the California Society of Printmakers. Van Hoesen Adams passed away in 2010 at the age of 84.

The generosity of E. Mark Adams and Beth Van Hoesen Adams will be honored by the University of Memphis as members of our Column Society. The Columns Society honors the generosity of alumni and friends who have made provisions for the University of Memphis through any one of a variety of estate planning options, including bequests, charitable trusts, charitable gift annuities or gifts of life insurance.

For more information about the Beth Van Hoesen Adams additions or the permanent collections, contact Lisa Francisco Abitz at or 901.678.2224.

Beth Van Hoesen's Oka Added to AMUM Collection

Photo by Jason Miller, Art Museum

Oka is an example of Van Hoesen's ability to bring out the beauty and personality in her subjects She is best known for her animal prints. 

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