Circa 1966: American Prints from the Collection

Sep 03, 2016 - Jan 29, 2017
Eisenberg Gallery

Fifty years ago, Rutgers established the University Art Gallery as part of a dedicated effort to integrate and promote the arts on campus. First occupying a modest two-room space in the renovated Voorhees Library, the gallery became the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum after a major expansion in 1983. Since then, the Zimmerli has grown in size and scope to become one of the largest and most prominent university art museums in the United States. Two complementary exhibitions titled Circa 1966 commemorate the Zimmerli’s golden anniversary by showcasing American works made during the 1960s and early 1970s: prints are on view in this gallery, while paintings and sculpture are presented in the Machaver and Littman galleries.

This selection of prints dates from 1960 to 1974, a period of renewed interest in printmaking in the United States. Numerous print studios opened throughout the country, including Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE; opened in West Islip, New York, in 1957), Tamarind Lithography Workshop, and Gemini G.E.L. (opened in Los Angeles in 1960 and 1966 respectively). These workshops were staffed by highly trained master printers and played host to major artists, many of whom had never made prints before. Together, the artists and printers experimented with both traditional and innovative techniques and explored a variety of styles—from the bold, gestural imagery of abstract expressionism and the crisp, precise forms of hard-edge abstraction to the eye-catching patterns and figures of pop art.

Many of the artists were deeply influenced by the social and political upheavals and scientific advancements of the time. Numerous printmakers depicted scenes, often adopted from newspapers and magazines, of the ongoing war in Vietnam, contentious political campaigns, and demonstrations for civil and equal rights. Other artists were inspired by the historic moon landings and created imaginative and awe-inspiring renderings of that new frontier. The 1960s changed the course of American life, and the prints in Circa 1966 recapture that dynamic and volatile period. Whether referencing the events of the time or reflecting the art movements of the period, the works in this exhibition demonstrate a variety of approaches to printmaking and showcase the breadth and depth of the Zimmerli’s collection of works of art on paper, one of the museum’s great strengths since its establishment in 1966.

Organized by Christina Weyl (PhD, Rutgers University, 2015), with assistance from Nicole Simpson, Assistant Curator of Drawings and Prints

Robert Rauschenberg

Guardian, 1968

Color photolithograph with embossing

42½ x 30⅛ in. (108 x 76.5 cm)

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

Anonymous Gift

85.083.017

Photo Jack Abraham