The Gallery of Art at Washington University in St. Louis will present American Art on Paper from the 1960s to the Present: Selections from the Permanent Collection Jan. 23 to April 18.
American Art on Paper includes 47 prints, drawings and photographs by 31 nationally and internationally known artists. The exhibition surveys the major artistic movements of the last four decades — from Pop, minimalism and conceptualism to the identity politics of the 1990s — and explores many issues addressed in the concurrent American Art of the 1980s: Selections from the Broad Collections.
American Art on Paper opens with a reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23 in the Gallery of Art. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; and noon to 4:30 p.m. weekends. (The Gallery of Art is closed Mondays.) The exhibit is free and open to the public. The Gallery of Art is located in Steinberg Hall, near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards. For more information, call (314) 935-4523.
American Art on Paper begins with a selection of Pop Art of the 1960s, including works by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Wayne Thiebaud and Andy Warhol.
“Artists aligned with the American pop art movement challenged the dichotomy between fine art and popular taste by looking to popular culture for inspiration, while continuing to work with various modernist aesthetic principles,” said Jodi Kovach, curatorial assistant and a doctoral candidate in Art History and Archaeology in Arts & Sciences, who helped organized the exhibition. “Expanding the traditions of printmaking gave these artists the freedom to experiment with the possibilities of assemblage, the objet trouvé, or found object and image reproducibility.”
At the same time, Kovach noted, post-painterly abstractionists such as Gene Davis, Ad Reinhardt, Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly “created minimalist compositions of geometric shapes and lines, often executed in flat, bold colors, that could be successfully realized through printmaking methods.” Four Titled Abstracts (1968) by the conceptualist Joseph Kosuth, “dematerialized the art object entirely” by printing dictionary definitions of words such as ‘abstract’ on paper.
Conceptualist practices continued to inform the work of artists in the 1970s and ’80s. For example, Richard Long’s Mud Hand Africa Map (1985), a drawing in mud on paper, expresses the artist’s engagement with the earth.
In the 1990s, artists such as William Eggleston, Annette Lemieux, Glen Ligon, Vik Muniz, Allan Sekula and Lorna Simpson frequently employed photo-based processes to examine contemporary social and political issues. Simpson’s Cure/Heal (c. 1992) and Ligon’s Runaways portfolio (1993), for example, combine text and photographs to interrogate racial and gender stereotypes, while Lemieux’s Stolen Faces (1991) combines digital photography and lithography to scrutinize the de-personalizing effects of military power.
A similar critical edge is found in the more traditional documentary work of photographers like Larry Clark, Gilles Peress, Catherine Wagner and Garry Winogrand. Clark’s Untitled (1963) draws on his experiences as a drug-addicted teenager and at the same time exposes the American obsession with youth and drug cultures. Peress, in a series of images ranging from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, empathetically portrays the victims of wars and violent uprisings in Rwanda, Serbia, Bosnia and Iran, while also exploring the ways news media shape the world’s perceptions of victimized peoples.