A New Reality: Black-and-White Photography in Contemporary Art

Cat’s Cradle by Janieta Eyre
Sep 01, 2007 - Nov 18, 2007
Voorhees Gallery

This exhibition of approximately 98 photographic works is derived from a major private collection of photography amassed by Anne and Arthur Goldstein, New Jersey residents. A New Reality explores two themes: the continued use of black-and-white photography as a medium of visual and historical consequence, and a growing tendency to exploit photography for an expressive and conceptual range far beyond its traditional role as a simple visual transcription of reality. To that end, over the course of their investigation of modern and contemporary photography, the collectors have increasingly gravitated toward works that reflect inventive and experimental use of photographic processes, or imagery that is unusual, imaginative, unsettling, or provocative.

Chronologically, the collection represents major figures whose work spans the years 1950 to the present. Among the significant photographers with work on view are: Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Sherrie Levine, Duane Michals, Vik Muniz, Cindy Sherman, Mike and Doug Starn, William Wegman, and Joel-Peter Witkin. While numerically emphasizing American photographers, the exhibition also includes prominent international photographers, such as Bernd and Hilla Becher (Germany), Laurent Millet (France), Tacita Dean (Great Britain), Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japan), and Mohammad Eslami-Rad (Iran). 

While some of the earlier photographers in the collection were practitioners of “straight” photography (not manipulated through darkroom techniques or otherwise altered), the collectors’ interest in odd or “edgy” subjects is seen in works by, for example, Diane Arbus (who sought out the bizarre aspects of everyday life), Larry Clark (who documented a rough and uninhibited teenage lifestyle), and even the more unusual side of the fashion photographer Richard Avedon (represented here by a photograph in which Andy Warhol displays his scarred, post-operative torso). Moving beyond documentation, technical and physical alterations in photographic process or product yielded new visual possibilites, as in Jerry Uelsmann’s evocative and symbolic multiple exposures or John Baldessari’s fragmented and collaged images. 

Among the most influential and widespread of modern photographic methodologies, once defined as the “directorial mode” and well represented in the exhibition, is the involvement of the photographer not as a mere recorder of events and scenes, but as an overarching creator of the image to be photographed. In a sense, the photographer takes on combined roles analogous to those in the film industry of writer, producer, director, and set designer. An unusual vignette (Laurie Simmons) or a narrative presented through a series of photographs (Duane Michals) is imagined, planned, and carried out by the photographer. At times, photographers used themselves as subjects, actors in a self-reflexive drama or transformative autobiography (Cindy Sherman, Yasumasa Morimuri). Some of these vignettes required enormous technical skill or obsessive acts of accumulation to realize (James Casebere, Vik Muniz).

The exhibition also delves into how photographs have emerged as powerful and flexible carriers of visual information that are suitable for a wide variety of applications in conceptual art. This aspect of photography, in particular, is reflected in the exhibition title’s reference to “photography in contemporary art,” stressing that photography, or image-making itself, is now but one component of a multimedia, multidisciplinary approach that fundamentally affects the intention and creation of much art today. 


Janieta Eyre (Canadian, born Great Britain, 1966)
Cat’s Cradle, 1995
Fiber based selenium toned print [3/3]
Collection Anne and Arthur Goldstein
Courtesy Diane Farris Gallery, Vancouver, BC

The Magyar Imagination: Selections from the Salgo Trust Donation of Hungarian Art

Portrait of a Lady with Parakeet by Ágost Canzi
Dec 09, 2007 - Mar 20, 2008
Voorhees Gallery

To celebrate the recent gift of works of art from the Nicholas M. Salgo Collection of Hungarian Art—the largest and most important representation of Hungarian art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries outside of Central Europe—the Zimmerli presents over 150 works representing the breadth of the collection from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries. This exhibition marks the first time that an overview of this important collection has been presented to the public. Styles represented include nineteenth-century academic painting, plein-air painting, Secessionist (Art Nouveau), twentieth-century avant-garde, works in the nativist style of the interwar period, and contemporary painting and sculpture.

Among the notable pieces in the collection are five works by Mihály Munkácsy, the most important Hungarian artist of the nineteenth century; Mother and Two Children, an 1869 painting by Pál Szinyei-Merse, representing one of the earliest examples of Central European Impressionism; a portrait by József Rippl-Rónai, who worked in France as a member of the post-Impressionist group known as the Nabis; and abstract paintings by the significant modernist Janos Mattis-Teutsch.

Another intriguing aspect of the Salgo Trust collection, though currently less known than the art collection, is its Salgo Trust’s excellent holdings of historical maps of Hungary and central/south-eastern Europe, including significant items extending back as far as the sixteenth century. There is also a growing collection of rare books and publications, particularly Secessionist (Art Nouveau) books and publications of the early twentieth-century avant-garde.

The Magyar imagination reflects the particular mental vision of the world constructed by Hungarians, one that is both closely related to, yet also distinct from, the world view of other European nations. Stemming from a geographical region and millennial state formation historically bounded by the Carpathian Mountains (as well as the linguistic space defined by the Magyars’ highly distinctive language, and therefore mode of thought), it is a conceptual view that can be placed between the tragic, and highly politicized vision of Russian culture, and the more aestheticized and pastoral vision of the French, to name just two traditions strongly represented by the Zimmerli’s current holdings.

Ágost Canzi
Portrait of a Lady with Parakeet, 1856
Oil on canvas
The Salgo Trust for Education

Russian Dance: Selections from the Donation of Herbert and Ruth Schimmel

Nijinsky as The Faun in Comoedia Illustré by Leon Bakst
Feb 02, 2008 - Sep 12, 2008
Russian Art Gallery


The Silver Age of Russian culture, which spans the 1890s to the 1920s, saw extraordinary developments in Russian literary, musical, and visual arts. This flowering of creativity also included the art of dance, which achieved unparalleled mastery in twentieth century Russia. The period included legendary dancers such as Nijinksy, Karsavina, Pavlova, and Spessiva, as well as the innovative choreographers Fokine, Massine, Balanchine, and Nijinska. But Russian dance of the modernist period also attracted the era’s most gifted musicians and visual artists, including Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Leon Bakst, and Alexandre Benois. It was the impresario Serge Diaghilev who brought together the multiple talents of the era to create the Ballets Russes, which shocked and delighted audiences in Western Europe and the Americas.

The Herbert and Ruth Schimmel Collection at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum is a precious resource for the study of early twentieth century Russian dance. Through the collection’s rare books, programs, journals, photography and artwork, scholars and the general public may reconstruct the exciting world of modernist Russian dance. This exhibition offers a tantalizing selection of the collection’s extraordinary holdings, including original programs from the Ballets Russes and its successor, The Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. Other gems include rare and lavishly illustrated albums commemorating outstanding Russian ballerinas, sensual stage and costume designs, portfolios of drawings devoted to Nijinsky, posters, and even videos of contemporary recreations of daring Diaghilev-era ballets, including the erotic Afternoon of a Faun.

Leon Bakst
Nijinsky as The Faun in Comoedia Illustré, May 15, 1912
Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers 
Gift of Herbert D. and Ruth Schimmel

Art for the Dance: Russian Costumes and Stage Designs from the Riabov Collection

Costume design for a Dancer with Wooden Spoons from the The Blind Musician
Feb 02, 2008 - Sep 12, 2008
Dodge Wing Lower Level

This exhibition takes advantage of the Zimmerli’s deep holdings of Russian art created for theater and dance. Russian theatrical design flourished at the end of the nineteenth century, but acquired international scope and recognition with the Ballets Russes at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Ballets Russes, an enterprise launched by impresario Sergei Diaghilev in 1909 in Paris, became a true revelation for the Western public. Exotic themes, bright colors, daring decorations, splendid costumes, and powerful choreography provoked a revolution in taste and fashion, not only affecting the theater but also the era’s general lifestyle.

A great part of the success of the Ballets Russes must be attributed to the artists who designed the sets and costumes. Very knowledgeable about the visual arts, Diaghilev invited the finest artists of his time to create the costumes and stage designs for his ballets. He collaborated largely with the artists from the Mir Iskusstva (World of Art) group, in which Diaghilev himself participated. The exhibition features works by such Mir Iskusstva artists as the group’s leader, Leon Bakst, Aleksander Benois, and Konstantin Korovin. Diaghilev also invited artists of a more radical avant-garde approach, such as Natalia Goncharova.

The Ballets Russes paved the way for daring experiments in Russian avant-garde theater, as represented in this exhibition by Aleksandra Exter’s designs. It also helped to establish a powerful tradition of progressive and internationalist costume and stage design in the West. After the Russian Revolution, the Ballets Russes settled in Monte-Carlo and hired both Western European and Russian émigré artists, and many of the latter went on to work for large European theatrical companies. Mstislav Dobuzhinsky and Leon Zack, for example, designed for Grand Opéra in Paris and La Scala. Some of the artists, such as Sergei Soudeikin, traveled to the United States and designed for Broadway shows and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, bringing the traditions of Russian stage design to America.


Serge Tchekhonine 

Costume design for "Dancer with Wooden Spoons" from the musical piece "The Blind Street Musician," 1929

Gouache, watercolor, and graphite on paper

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers 

George Riabov Collection of Russian Art


Picture Play: Illustrations Made for Young Booklovers

Roger Duvoisin: Color study for A Little Boy Was Drawing, ca. 1932
Sep 02, 2008 - Jan 11, 2009
Duvoisin Gallery

Images made to delight the very young as well as the young at heart selected from the Rutgers Collection of Original Illustrations for Children’s Literature include works by Frank Asch, Maginel Wright Barney, Tony Chen, William Pène du Bois, Roger Duvoisin, Shari Halpern, Ward Schumaker, Art Seiden, and Catherine Stock. The illustrations explore various themes beloved by young children include counting, rhymes and games, animals, fantasy, and images from everyday life.

Cheerful, witty illustrations by Catherine Stock for Trot Trot to Boston enliven a collection of play rhymes for very young children and their parents and caregivers to enjoy together. Ward Schumaker’s preparatory drawings for Toddler Two-Step offer a dynamic visual interpretation of a counting rhyme that is also a dance.

Art Seiden’s precise, detailed illustrations of vehicles for All Kinds of Trucks appeal to children who love all things with wheels, while illustrations by Tony Chen for The Cozy Book and by Shari Halpern for What Shall We Do When We All Go Out? celebrate the joyful activities of everyday life. Illustrations by Maginel Wright Barney for Thumbelina, by William Pène du Bois for Otto at Sea, and preparatory gouache paintings by Roger Duvoisin for A Little Boy Was Drawing explore imaginary worlds in which the hero, with whom the child may identify, may be tiny, gigantic, or cast in an unusual new role. In these fantasies, the hero always possesses special qualities that allow him or her to transcend the environment.

While the illustrations exhibit diversity in style and medium, each artist employs composition and color to appeal to very young audience and express the varied texts in vibrant visual images.

Organized by Gail Aaron, Assistant Curator of Original Illustrations for Children's Books

Roger Duvoisin

Color study for A Little Boy Was Drawing, ca. 1932

Gouache, ink, and graphite on paper

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

Gift of Louise Fatio Duvoisin

© 1932 Charles Scribner’s Sons, renewed © 1960 by Roger Duvoisin

Used by permission of the Estate of Roger Duvoisin

Honoré Daumier & La Maison Aubert: Political and Social Satire in Paris

Mr. Jacot-Lefaive detail by Honoré Daumier
Mar 01, 2008 - Jun 01, 2008
European Galleries

To celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of the gifted 19th-century artist Honoré Daumier (1808-1879), the Zimmerli has organized an exhibition featuring Daumier’s major prints and rare sculptures to emphasize the mastery of this skillful caricaturist of the July Monarchy (1830-1848) and the Second Empire (1852-1870).

The exhibition features Daumier’s most subversive works, which include the portrait-caricature series of The Celebrities of the Juste-Milieu (1832-1835), which comprises 36 painted clay busts of politicians and other personalities of the July Monarchy. The Zimmerli Art Museum is the only American institution to own a complete set of this exceedingly rare series made from the original works now housed in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

These quickly modeled busts were kept in the workshop of publisher Charles Philipon’s La Maison Aubert, where artists referred to them to create politically charged lithographs. The series is displayed vis-à-vis their lithographic counterparts to illustrate a still unique commission in the history of art: a series of three-dimensional statuettes made solely to be used as visual references for two-dimensional artworks.

Examples of Daumier’s non-political genre scenes, created primarily from the 1840s to the 1860s, are also included. Daumier, an acute observer of the newly powerful bourgeoisie, recorded societal changes—ranging from fashionable pastimes of swimming and ice-skating to the new modes of transportation changing Parisian life—with verve, humor, and poignancy.

The Florence Gould Foundation provided generous funding support towards the realization of this important Daumier exhibition and its accompanying catalogue, authored by Florence Quideau and Edouard Papet.

Honoré Daumier

Mr. Jacot-Lefaive (detail)

Le Charivari, November 9, 1833 (D. 173)

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers 

Appointing Gesture: The Worlds and Images of Dmitry Prigov

Perestroika by Dmitry Prigov
Sep 20, 2008 - Jan 18, 2009
Dodge Wing Lower Level

Poet, novelist, sculptor, draughtsman, musician, video and performance artist, thinker, and one of the most resonant and reasoned voices of a generation writ large, Dmitry Aleksandrovich Prigov (1940-2007) wore many hats in his lifetime, becoming a permanent (and, with his untimely passing, irreplaceable) fixture of the Moscow art world from the 1970s on. Having defined his own existence as the “life-long artistic Project DAP,” he contributed an entirely distinct body of work to Moscow Conceptualism. It encompassed a broad visual and intellectual span between almost irreconcilable poles. At one end of the spectrum, there is his wry deconstruction, in which the ideology permeating Soviet life as transparent language is given physical form, made into images that renders it palpable, visible, and vulnerable. At the other end, there is a profound engagement with the metaphysical, the transcendental, and the trans-epochal, which he created as a contemporary, friend, and member of the Sots-Art generation. The systematic thinker in Prigov was ever keen to uncover the deep cognitive structures and patterns that give individual lives their shape and order, while always allowing for a something that may exist beyond the limits of any system.

This exhibition brings together on a small scale many of the diverse elements of Prigov’s oeuvre, and strives to give a non-Russian-speaking audience insight into his vision of a vast world that had for its epicenter the turbulent cultural upheavals of the late- and post-Soviet Russia. Works presented include drawings, texts, visual poetry, objects, video, and photographic documentation.

Organized by Julia Tulovsky, Assistant Curator of Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art

Dmitry Prigov
Perestroika, 1986-87
Ball point pen on printed paper
On loan from the collection of Norton and Nancy Dodge
Art © Estate of Dmitri Aleksandrovich Prigov/RAO, Moscow/VAGA, NY

Inspired by Literature: Art and Fine Books

Willem de Kooning Illustration for the poem “A Man Without A Country” by Frank O
Nov 21, 2008 - Jul 05, 2009
Eisenberg Gallery

Exploring the inspiration of great writers on contemporary artists, this exhibition features a selection of recent Limited Edition Club publications, including Willem de Kooning’s Seventeen Lithographs for Frank O’Hara (1988); Robert Motherwell’s lithographs for the Octavio Paz Suite (1988); Sean Scully’s color intaglios accompanying excerpts from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1992); Balthus’s illustrations for Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1994); Edward Ranney’s photogravures for Heights of Machu Picchu (1999); Dean Mitchell’s colored etchings inspired by jazz (2003); and photogravures by Duane Michals inspired by the poetry of Constantine P. Cavafy (2003). 

Today, when the internet makes a book’s entire text readily available, it is a luxury to experience an elegantly produced book, one with pages of handmade paper imprinted with words set in beautiful typography and enhanced by an artist’s original prints. The New York-based Limited Editions Club, which was founded in 1929, is still one of America’s finest publishers of artist-illustrated limited edition books. In 2007, Sidney Shiff, who has headed Limited Editions Club since 1978, donated a group of contemporary Limited Editions Club exhibition portfolios to the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum in honor of his longtime friend Ralph W. Voorhees, who is also a great friend to this museum and Rutgers University. This exhibition presents a selection of prints and photogravures from this wonderful gift, complemented by an important loan of Limited Editions Club books illustrated by Leonard Baskin, Fritz Eichenberg, Jacob Lawrence, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Robert Motherwell from the Special Collections of Rutgers University Libraries.

Organized by Marilyn Symmes, Director of the Morse Research Center for Graphic Arts and Curator of Prints and Drawings


Willem de Kooning

Illustration for the poem “A Man Without A Country” by Frank O’Hara

Published by the Limited Editions Club, New York, 1988

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

Gift of Sidney Shiff in honor of Ralph W. Voorhees

© 2008 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Selections from the Claude and Nina Gruen Collection of Contemporary Art

Many-Headed Person with Fork by Oleg Tselkov
Feb 10, 2009 - Jun 28, 2009
Dodge Wing Lower Level

This exhibition celebrates the major gift of contemporary Russian art to the Zimmerli Art Museum by California-based collectors Claude and Nina Gruen. The Gruen Collection, comprising approximately 160 works by leading Russian contemporary artists, is an invaluable addition to the Zimmerli’s holdings of traditional Russian art, donated by George Riabov, and the world’s largest collection of Soviet nonconformist art, assembled by Norton T. Dodge.

The Gruen holdings reflect art strategies employed by Russian artists from cultural stagnation under Brezhnev to Gorbachev's perestroika and beyond. The majority of the items in the collection date from the late 1980s to 1990s, but it also includes a few works from the 1930s and 1940s inspired by the Russian avant-garde and early nonconformist pieces from the 1950s through 1970s. The core works by the nonconformist artists, produced after the collapse of the Soviet Union, continue to dwell upon Soviet experiences while uniting them with the realities of the new post-Soviet economy. The younger generation of artists that emerged around 2000 often ignores the Soviet episode altogether, wheeling and dealing in the glamour of the new Russian capitalism. 

As the fruit of individual reason and desire, intellectual analysis and spontaneous affection, the Gruen Collection relates the story of modern Russian art from a particular viewpoint; there are preferences and avoidances, favorites and omissions, celebrities and unfamiliar names. Nevertheless, there is a consistency in the collection that emphasizes the interchangeability of various concepts within Russian contemporary art. The Gruen contribution extends the Zimmerli’s holdings of Russian art to the present day, displays a broad spectrum of art paradigms, and creates a solid base at the museum for further research and exploration. 

Organized by Julia Tulovsky, Assistant Curator of Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art

Oleg Tselkov
Many-Headed Person with Fork, 1983
Oil on canvas
Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers
Claude and Nina Gruen Collection of Contemporary Russian Art

Lois Lenski: Exploring the Everyday Lives of Children

The Little Auto by Lois Lenski
Sep 01, 2009 - Nov 29, 2009
Duvoisin Gallery

Thirty-six illustrations selected from the Zimmerli Art Museum’s holdings of over 60 children’s book illustrations by Lois Lenski (1893-1974) reveal ways in which the Newbery Award–winning author/illustrator’s deep interest in the daily lives and activities of children is reflected in visual components of her books.

Lenski’s groundbreaking picture book, The Little Auto (1934), features clear hand-lettered text and engaging black and red illustrations that resonate with the imaginative play of a child with a toy car. Reflecting her ideas about the preferences of young children, crisp ink drawings with touches of color predominate in works such as Now It’s Fall (1948), and figures and action are contained within the frame of the page.

Concurrently creating picture books, Lenski researched, wrote, and illustrated fiction for older children. Beginning in the early 1940s, Lenski determined to investigate and describe in fiction the lives of children from various regions of the United States currently underrepresented in juvenile literature. Books such as Judy’s Journey (1947), a novel about a girl whose family earns a living as migrant workers, provided children of the World War II and post-war era with a perspective on lives much different from their own. Small, information-packed illustrations in graphite or ink amplify, but don’t compete with, the texts.

Books for viewing and for browsing are on display in the gallery, along with activities for visitors. Illustrations on view in the gallery, some being shown for the first time, are the gift of the artist’s son, Steven Covey.

Organized by Gail Aaron, Assistant Curator of Original Illustrations for Children’s Books

Original illustration for The Little Auto by Lois Lenski
© 1934 and 1962 Lois Lenski
Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers
Published by permission of The Lois Lenski Covey Foundation, Inc. and Random House, Inc.