Since the beginning of civilization, humankind has created systems of words and images to capture an ever-expanding realm of knowledge and experience. Think of Sumerian cuneiform tablets, Egyptian hieroglyphics, the dazzling manuscripts of the Middle Ages, and the invention of the first printed page. When Picasso and the Cubists attached fragments of actual newspapers to their drawings in the opening years of the twentieth century, they challenged us to adopt new ways of seeing and thinking.
In 1960, artists took up this challenge anew and upended expectations associated with language and art making — and, in the process, transformed the act of drawing. Art=Text=Art: Works by Contemporary Artists, on view at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University from September 4, 2012, through January 6, 2013, explores this phenomenon. Featuring 109 captivating drawings, prints, and artists’ books by 48 American artists, the exhibition presents a spectrum of works ranging from the spare poem Carl Andre typed onto an ordinary 8½-by-11 piece of paper in 1960 to a five-foot-wide drawing called The Garden of Scripts (Villandry), created in 1986 by Alice Aycock, an alumna of Douglass College (now the Rutgers Douglass Residential College). Aycock painstakingly mapped out this fanciful landscape using the ancient and modern letterforms of such languages as Arabic and Sanskrit. Many other works in the show, dating from the 1960s to the present, prompt tantalizing insights into literature, mathematics, and even the humble tasks of daily life.
We are delighted to participate in this exhibition and accompanying online catalogue, thanks to the generosity of Sally and Wynn Kramarsky. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the Kramarskys for making this entire project a reality and for sharing close to 100 drawings, prints, and artists’ books from their exceptional collection with the Zimmerli’s campus and community audiences. The exhibition reveals their passion for the intimate processes of drawing and their “eye” for spotting what have often become seminal works that shape our understanding of art today.
We thank Glenn D. Lowry, director, and Connie Butler, curator, of The Museum of Modern Art; and Jock Reynolds, director, and Suzanne Boorsch, curator, of the Yale University Art Gallery, for kindly agreeing to lend to the Zimmerli several important works that the Kramarskys had donated to those museums. This museum cooperation is a tribute to the Kramarskys as exemplary collectors and philanthropists.
Art=Text=Art also reflects our fruitful collaboration with colleagues at the University of Richmond in Virginia. The exhibition was initially organized in 2011 by the University of Richmond Museums and was curated by N. Elizabeth Schlatter, Deputy Director and Curator of Exhibitions, with Rachel Nackman, curator of the Kramarsky Collection in New York. Art=Text=Art’s installation at the University of Richmond Museums was made possible in part by the generous support of the University’s Cultural Affairs Committee and funds from the Louis S. Booth Arts Fund, to whom we are also grateful.
We offer warm thanks to Elizabeth in Richmond, and to Rachel Nackman and Michael Randazzo in Wynn Kramarsky’s office in New York for facilitating this project for the Zimmerli. Rachel went beyond the common measure to ensure every aspect of this project proceeded smoothly. For this updated and expanded online catalogue accompanying the Zimmerli’s presentation, Rachel continued as the editor in charge, expertly guiding the catalogue’s complex realization to encompass even more texts, images, and interactive components. Other members of the Kramarsky team who offered timely assistance were Peter Muscato, Madeleine Haddon, and Nathan Langston. I would like also to thank the many online catalogue contributors, acknowledged elsewhere in this e-publication, for their insightful and imaginative commentary on the individual works of art in the show.
Marilyn Symmes, the Zimmerli’s curator of prints and drawings and director of its Morse Research Center for Graphic Arts, has had the distinct privilege and pleasure of working closely with Wynn Kramarsky and Rachel Nackman to expand the exhibition for the Zimmerli. She served as the Zimmerli’s project manager and oversaw the exhibition’s handsome installation at the museum. Every member of the Zimmerli‘s small but dedicated staff contributed to the Art=Text=Art project. Marilyn joins me in thanking them; we acknowledge by name those Zimmerli colleagues most directly involved in the project: Keith Bull, exhibition coordinator; Bernadette Clapsis, accountant; Roberto Delgado, preparator; Alfredo Franco, curator of education; Leslie Kriff, registrar; Beth McKeown, assistant curator for works on paper; Whitney Prendergast, director of development; Ed Schwab, operations manager; Stacy Smith, manager of publications and communications; Anita Vangerud, security officer; and Theresa Watson, communications coordinator.
We are also exceedingly grateful to the 48 artists represented in Art=Text=Art for enthusiastically welcoming the Zimmerli as a venue. Their creative work and processes inform the Zimmerli’s fall 2012 programs, which are designed to engage Rutgers students and faculty from the arts, humanities, and sciences, as well as statewide audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Related programs, described in full on the Zimmerli’s website, include lectures, drawing classes, a workshop for K-12 teachers, school visits, and a cell phone tour featuring eleven Rutgers faculty members who interpret the works of art from many perspectives enriching the public’s enjoyment of these engaging works of art. We offer our appreciation to Marija Dalbello, Associate Professor of Information Studies, School of Communication and Information; Tatiana Flores, Assistant Professor, Department of Art History; Jeff Friedman, Associate Professor of Dance, Mason Gross School of the Arts; Charles Häberl, Associate Professor, African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures; Charles R. Keeton II, Professor of Astrophysics, Department of Physics and Astronomy; Julie Langsam, Assistant Professor, Visual Arts (Drawing), Mason Gross School of the Arts; Amitabh Lath, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy; Laura Lawson, Professor and Chair, Department of Landscape Architecture; Susan Miller, Russell Teaching Fellow, Writers House; Anjali Nerlekar, Assistant Professor, African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures; and Barry V. Qualls, Vice President of Undergraduate Education and Professor, Department of English.
The Art=Text=Art exhibition and related programs at the Zimmerli are supported by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and donors to the Zimmerli’s Annual Exhibition Fund: Sustainer/ Voorhees Family Endowment and Supporter/ Jerome A. Yavitz Charitable Foundation, Inc. – Stephen Cypen, President.
The Zimmerli’s operations and programs are funded in part by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; the Estate of Victoria J. Mastrobuono; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; and the donors, members, and friends of the museum.
We are profoundly grateful to these funders and to the Kramarskys for allowing the Zimmerli to present the work of some of the most innovative American artists of our time, whose art is rarely seen in at Rutgers or in the Garden State. Please visit the Zimmerli Art Museum’s website for further information about the exhibition and programs for Art=Text=Art. This website also provides information about the Zimmerli, one of the largest university art museums in the United States, and its American, French, and Russian and Soviet Nonconformist art collections. We look forward to welcoming you.