A California Art Trove

Steve Zylius / UCI

A California Art Trove

An exquisite, long-hidden collection of California art has been given to UCI by the trust of Gerald E. Buck, a Newport Beach developer.

Buck, who built sprawling suburban communities from Southern California farmland, meticulously amassed more than 3,200 original works before his death in 2013 but never displayed them publicly, other than occasionally lending pieces to museums.

Currently stored in a secured Los Angeles facility and in what was Buck’s private exhibition space, the collection will eventually be put on view in a new building on campus to be called the UCI Museum and Institute for California Art.

According to dealers and curators, Buck assembled the most comprehensive private collection of California modern art in the world, representing a who’s who of artists from a century ago to contemporary powerhouses such as Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Joan Brown and Sam Francis.

Buck’s daughter, Christina, says her father wanted his collection to go to an institution with extensive research programs in the arts and where the public and scholars alike could enjoy and study the pieces. “It makes me so happy,” she says, “that the campus now has the works for students, faculty and, ultimately, people who just love art – like my father did.”

Stephen Barker, dean of UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts, stands among a selection of works from the Buck Collection donated to UCI. Clockwise from center:

Maguffin, by Eric Johnson (c.1995-2009)
Composite resin and wood, 34 x 34 x 60 inches

Standing Figure with Ribs, by Stephen De Staebler (1978)
Fired clay, 79 x 17 x 28 inches

Woman with Missing Hip, by Stephen De Staebler (1978)
Fired clay, 81 x 18 x 30 inches

Thrasher, by Peter Alexander (1992)
Oil on canvas, 48 x 84 inches

Couple in Bathroom, aka Study in Red and Blue, by Roger Kuntz (1964)
Oil on canvas, 50 x 39¾ inches

Under One Flag and Two Parasols, by Roland Petersen (1967)
Oil on canvas, 67 ⅞ x 56¼ inches