By Its Cover: Original Art for Children's Books

Adrienne Adams, Illustration for Thumbelina, 1961
Sep 01, 2006 - Feb 04, 2007
Duvoisin Gallery

Despite the adage that warns against judging a book by its cover, readers rightfully expect the cover of an illustrated children’s book to herald its contents.

Illustrators, editors, and book designers collaborate to produce appealing book covers. Cover art must make a strong impression yet allow plenty of space for the book’s title and other text. Ideally the text design should complement the art; sometimes the artist creates the title as part of the cover illustration. 

Works of art by outstanding illustrators such as Adrienne Adams, Roger Duvoisin, Catherine Stock, and Jean and Mou-sien Tseng explore the art of creating the introductory image for a children’s book. Selected preparatory work reveals aspects of the artist’s creative process and highlights elements of book design.

Adrienne Adams, Illustration for Thumbelina
Watercolor and graphite on illustration board
Gift of the artist
©1961 by Adrienne Adams
Reprinted by permission of the estate of Adrienne Adams
Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University

Toulouse-Lautrec and the French Imprint: Fin-de-Siecle Posters in Paris, Brussels, and Barcelona

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Divan Japonais, 1893
Nov 16, 2006 - Feb 18, 2007
Voorhees Gallery

This major exhibition of 130 important French, Belgian, and Spanish posters is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition to date dealing with French posters and their influence from the early nineteenth-century Romantic period to Art Nouveau. The exhibition features fifteen works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, including his large 1891 poster for the Moulin Rouge, as well as the chief work of the other leading poster artists working in Paris, such as Jules Chéret and Alphonse Mucha, among others.

Toulouse-Lautrec and the French Imprint is derived primarily from the Zimmerli Art Museum's extensive holdings of posters, one of the largest in the United States. In addition, forty-six rare and significant works are on loan from the private Parisian collection of the descendants of Edmond Sagot, considered the most prominent and influential poster dealer of the period. This is the first time since the end of the nineteenth century that most of these posters from the Sagot collection have been on public view together.

In addition to posters, the exhibition includes a number of unique gouache and watercolor maquettes for posters; lavishly printed Art Nouveau period French and Belgian color lithographic programs for theater, circus, and café-concert performances; and advertisements for a variety of products.


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Divan Japonais, 1893


Collection Michel Romand, Paris

Alone Together: People in American Prints

Benton Spruance: Homing Instinct, 1929
Feb 10, 2007 - Jul 29, 2007
Eisenberg Gallery

Each person navigates the world alone, yet co-exists with others. In daily life, individuals interact together as part of a couple, family, cluster of friends, schoolmates, co-workers, or larger community groups, while strangers crowd together, for example, at rallies or as masses of urban commuters. Many modern and contemporary American artists, who have made the human figure central to their art, have represented children, women, and men in various domestic or community contexts to reflect aspects of society.

This exhibition juxtaposes individualized portrayals with prints depicting people in various types of social groups. Selected from the Zimmerli Art Museum’s extensive graphic arts collection and the recent major American prints gift from Dr. and Mrs. David Eisenberg, the exhibition highlights works by Peggy Bacon, Will Barnet, Martin Lewis, Alice Neel, John Sloan, Raphael Soyer, and many others. Contemporary prints by Emma Amos, Philip Pearlstein, Faith Ringgold, and others from the Rutgers Archives for Printmaking Studios complete this survey of American printmaking from the early 1900s to now.

Benton Spruance

Homing Instinct, 1929


Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

Gift of David and Ruth Eisenberg

A Sense of Place: Children's Book Illustrations by Catherine Stock

Sep 01, 2007 - Jan 28, 2008
Duvoisin Gallery

Art selected from two books illustrated by Catherine Stock, Galimoto and A Very Important Day, demonstrate how an artist attunes her approach to very different subject matter and locations. 

Stock’s translucent, lyrical watercolors for Galimoto describe a day in the life of a Malawian boy who decides to make his own wire toy. A handmade toy similar to one illustrated in the book is on view in the gallery.

Crisp, jewel-toned watercolors for A Very Important Day follow diverse people on the day they or family members become American citizens. Stock’s illustrations celebrate the book’s Manhattan setting.


Catherine Stock

Illustration for Galimoto

Watercolor on paper

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers
Gift of the artist, © Catherine Stock 1990


The Heritage of the Russian Avant-Garde: Vladimir Sterligov and His School

Apr 07, 2007 - Oct 14, 2007
Dodge Wing Lower Level

This exhibition features more than fifty works of the Sterligov School from the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union. This group of abstract painters worked in Leningrad from 1960-1990.

More than any other group, their art demonstrates the self-conscious continuity of early twentieth-century Russian avant-garde practices in nonconformist art of the post-World War II Soviet Union. Led by the charismatic painter and teacher Vladimir Sterligov (1904-73), these artists based their approach on Kazimir Malevich's Suprematism and Mikhail Matiushin's Organic Culture. Sterligov, with wife Tatiana Glebova and students Elena Gritsenko and Gennadii Zubkov, sought to convey their perception of the world as a non-representational reality, "a visible invisibility, and a visibility unseen."

Curated by Isabel Wünsche, a scholar from the International University of Bremen

Strange Mr. Satie Comes to the Zimmerli: Children's Book Illustrations by Petra Mathers

Petra Mathers, Illustration for Strange Mr. Satie, 2003
Feb 18, 2006 - Jul 16, 2006
Duvoisin Gallery


A biography for children about the life and times of the brilliant, eccentric composer Erik Satie inspired noted children’s book illustrator Petra Mathers to research the world of avant-garde artists in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Paris. Her investigations led to rich resources, including, to her surprise, the Zimmerli Art Museum, to which she already had donated original art for two of her children’s books. Eventually, a copy of the book inscribed “Strange Mr. Satie comes to the Zimmerli” accompanied the artist’s gift of original art and preparatory materials for Strange Mr. Satie to the Rutgers Collection of Original Illustrations for Children’s Literature. The exhibition offers complete original illustrations, selected research and preparatory materials, and examples of art and ephemera from the Zimmerli’s collection of materials related to the Chat Noir Café and the Parisian avant-garde ballet.

A video of a recent revival of the ballet Parade is being shown in the gallery.

Petra Mathers

Illustration for Strange Mr. Satie

Gouache, watercolor, and graphite on paper

© 2003 by Petra Mathers

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

Word and Image in Late 19th-Century Paris

Alfred Jarry, Le Chanson du décervelage (The Debraining Song), 1898
Sep 01, 2006 - Mar 11, 2007
European Galleries

Prominent within this display of Parisian avant-garde material are items representing the informal group activity dubbed Le Mur (The Wall) and the creations of the artists who comprised the Incohérents. Le Mur was inaugurated in 1894 at the Quat’z’Arts cabaret, one of the last examples of the Montmartre cabaret artistique, as an anti-journal and an alternative version of the official publication of the Quat’z’Arts. Somewhere between a bulletin board, graffiti writing, and an exhibition, Le Mur functioned as a collaborative “happening” with satirical glances at politics and the literary and art worlds, rather than a real publication intended for mass consumption.

Founded in 1882, the Incohérents were competent academic artists who nevertheless formed a proto-Dada anti-academic group that actively criticized and parodied the official Salon. One of the group’s first ideas was to “have an exhibition of drawings” made by people “who don’t know how to draw.” Like the later Dada artists, whom they inspired, the Incohérents raised questions about the nature of art by challenging existing technique, forms, and content.

Alfred Jarry

Le Chanson du décervelage (The Debraining Song)

Lithographic program cover for the puppet theater "Répertoire des Pantins"

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers 

Museum Purchase, David A. and Mildred H. Morse Fund

William Kentridge Prints

William Kentridge, Blue Head, 1993-98
Apr 07, 2006 - Jul 16, 2006
Voorhees Gallery

William Kentridge Prints is an exhibition of 120 works, ranging in date from 1976 to 2004 and representing over a third of the output in the medium of printmaking by this internationally renowned South African artist.

Kentridge may be viewed as a contemporary participant in a long tradition of socially and politically engaged printmakers, such as William Hogarth, Francisco Goya, Honoré Daumier, and Kathe Kollwitz. In Kentridge’s case, his social concerns were impelled by his reaction to the institutional oppression of apartheid that held sway in his native land for much of his lifetime. His personal involvement with this theme arose not only from his general societal context, but specifically from his immediate family, which included several prominent lawyers committed to social justice and active against the system of apartheid.

The artist’s inventive imagery, almost always based around the human figure, offers intriguing and sometimes oblique commentary on the human condition and human folly. The vast majority of Kentridge’s prints are restricted to black and white, with color accents added to certain images. This choice results in works that are alternately exceedingly powerful in the stark contrast of image to background in woodcuts and lithographs, or subtle in employing the linear and atmospheric effects of etching or monotype. 

William Kentridge
Blue Head, 1993-98
Etching and aquatint
Collection of the artist


Seriality: Repetition and Narrative in Soviet Nonconformist Art

Andrei Roiter, Untitled, 1984
May 09, 2006 - Jul 30, 2006
Dodge Wing Lower Level

Seriality, the practice of painting or drawing in a series, is often associated with the post-war art of America and the movement away from personal expression in favor of the anonymous and mechanical properties of repetition. Practices such as Pop Art and Minimalism utilized the processes of reproduction to create art that was less about the unique personality and vision of the maker, focusing instead on subverting the boundaries between art and the objects of the "everyday" world. To these ends, seriality became a way of questioning or destabilizing the individual "aura" of painting, the notion that a work of art must by definition be single, unique, and irreplaceable. Art pieces such as Andy Warhol's 50 Marilyns and Donald Judd's Boxes look to the mechanical world of mass production for alternatives to traditional conceptions of art. As such, seriality in American art is often associated with impersonality and the austerity of process.

This exhibition seeks to provide a differing account of seriality in art by examining the work of Russian artists from the Dodge Collection. As opposed to the dominant modes of practice in America, Russian art often utilizes seriality to emphasize the private and the personal, as well as to examine the relationship of visual art to the narrative practices of literature and film. Serialities showcases a wide variety of serial art, from conceptual work to abstraction, Soviet surrealism, and photography. The formal and stylistic diversity of the work displayed in the exhibition points to a broad artistic investigation into the potentials of working in series.

Andrei Roiter

Untitled, 1984

Gouache on paper

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union

Abraham Joel Tobias: Sculptural Paintings of the 1930s

Abraham Joel Tobias, Direct Action, 1935
Sep 01, 2006 - Dec 31, 2006
American Art Gallery

In the modern era, artists have sometimes used irregularly shaped surfaces to explore compositional possibilities beyond those offered by the traditional rectangle. The shaping of easel paintings by artists for independent, formalist purposes essentially began in the twentieth century, when the first significant art historical attention paid to shaped canvases occurred in the 1960s.

However, in 1934-35, Abraham Joel Tobias created and exhibited an extraordinary group of works he called “sculptural paintings” that integrated shaped canvases and complex framing devices, both conditioned by the imagery they contained. With their complex yet coherent interplay of imagery, construction, and composition, the sculptural paintings are uniquely innovative works within the history of American art.

Recently, the artist’s widow Carolyn enhanced her previous donation of Tobias’s City Landscape with a gift of three additional works, as well as two long-term loans; all are sculptural paintings (except for one circular painting). The Zimmerli is pleased to display these works in gratitude for a generous donation and in honor of the achievements of a highly original American artist.

Abraham Joel Tobias

Direct Action, 1935

Oil on canvas over plywood, aluminum frame

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

Gift of Carolyn Tobias