Ruy Leitão, Sem título, 1968 (detalhe)

The contemporary art collection of the Luso-American Development Foundation was established in 1986 as a part of its cultural program, which supports FLAD’s mission to contribute to the economic and social development in Portugal, in a cooperative relationship with United States of America.

The collection was started by Manuel Castro Caldas, who was responsible for the acquisitions made between 1986 and 2005 in close collaboration with the sculptor Rui Sanches and, later, with the painter Manuel Costa Cabral.

During the past 25 years, a collection of about 1000 works of art representing different aspects of Portuguese artistic creation, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, engraving, photography, video and art installation was amassed. Over two thirds of the collection are works on paper, therefore highlighting the importance of drawing in contemporary art.

To date, the Art Collection has served as an anchor for a series of initiatives, independent projects and exhibitions organized by the Foundation or in partnership with other cultural institutions, such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, The Drawing Center in New York, museums that belong to the Ministry of Culture (with exhibitions at the museums in Évora and Caldas da Rainha), Spain’s Generalitat de Catalunya, Serralves Foundation, Culturgest, the Nogueira da Silva Museum from Minho University, Arpad Szenes-Vieira Foundation, Vale do Côa Museum, as well as other Portuguese museums under the care of The Regional Ministry of Culture and the Azores Regional Government.

The collection was also the starting point for a program to promote visiting curators from the United States. This project began in 1992 and is aimed at raising awareness about the Foundation’s art collection, as well as Portuguese artistic production and its cultural aspects. The curators who were invited to participate in this program represent some of the most renowned American institutions such as the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the MoMA and Guggenheim Museums in New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

In 1999, the Luso-American Foundation and the Serralves Foundation, in Oporto, signed a protocol for a permanent loan of FLAD’s Collection to the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art. More recently, in 2011, another protocol was signed with the Azorean Regional Government’s Regional Ministry of Culture with goal of promoting traveling exhibitions throughout the archipelago’s museums.

From the start, the Foundation has received many requests to exhibit its works of art – approximately 300 on loan – thus contributing to a greater understanding of the Portuguese art scene.