Part Two of "Stars" Focuses on Contemporary Prints from the 1990s

September 26, 2013

Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers Spotlights Collaborations

Between Contemporary Artists and Innovative Printmaking Studio


New Brunswick, NJ – Art created during the 1990s at one of America’s premier printmaking studios is the focus in the second installment of the three-part exhibition series “Stars: Contemporary Prints by Derrière L’Étoile Studio,” on view at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers from October 5, 2013, to March 2, 2014. From reinventions of Pop art and geometric abstraction, to adaptions of cartoon styles and appropriation, more than 20 prints by notable artists who worked with the studio illustrate the broad range of concepts and styles that artists explored at the end of the 20th century. Founded in 1978 in New York City by printer Maurice Sánchez, Derrière L’Étoile quickly became one of the leading printmaking studios in America that has thrived for the past 35 years.

The decade of the 1990s produced a diverse range of work by some of the most recognized names in contemporary art. Mel Bochner, Donald Judd, and Robert Mangold realized remarkably rigorous prints of geometric precision; their seemingly simple forms belie how challenging they were to print. Georgia Marsh’s lyrical abstraction harmonized subtle textures and bright bands of color. Others, such as Donald Baechler, Robert Gober, Roni Horn, and Tim Rollins and K.O.S. invited printed words into their images – albeit for provocatively different conceptual purposes. And the irreverent Paul McCarthy upended a holiday myth in his vigorously drawn print “Santa Chocolate Shop” (1997).

“This exhibition series celebrates the Zimmerli’s longtime relationship with Maurice Sánchez,” notes Suzanne Delehanty, the museum’s director. With great generosity, Sánchez has donated more than 500 printer’s proofs since 1982, when the museum launched the Rutgers Archives for Printmaking Studios to document aspects of printmaking in the United States. Delehanty continues, “These prints are an important resource for the museum’s exhibitions and educational programs about contemporary art, in addition to complementing the studies of Rutgers University faculty and students.”

“Part One of the exhibition included such artists as Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, and Elizabeth Murray, who made their first important prints with Maurice Sánchez in the 1980s,” notes Marilyn Symmes, Director, Morse Research Center for Graphic Arts and Curator of Prints and Drawings, who organized this trilogy of exhibitions. “And as their reputations grew, the art world increasingly appreciated the technical mastery Maurice achieved with every artist who created prints at his Derrière L’Étoile Studio – an expertise that notably continues to this day.” Part Three of the exhibition is on view from March 8 to July 31, 2014, with prints created from 2000 to the present.

During the 1990s, several artists playfully captured aspects of daily urban life with their spontaneous drawing styles. Since the late 1950s, Claes Oldenburg has focused on ordinary objects as captivating subjects for his prints and monumental sculpture. His dynamically rendered color lithograph “Apple Core” (1991) presents an already devoured and discarded piece of fruit as a study of distinctive sculptural form. For decades, Red Grooms has created amusing installations and prints inspired by Manhattan’s vibrant city life. In his color lithograph “Rockefeller Center” (1995), the popular landmark bustles with humorous glimpses of office (and underground) activity, as well as a parade of stereotypical pedestrians. Carroll Dunham’s “Blue House” (1998) invites viewers to peek through the windows of someone’s home. His cartoonish style injects domestic life with a comic, yet intense, perspective. 

Sánchez also created remarkable late-career prints with two exceptional artists: Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012) and Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010). Both of their careers ultimately spanned 80 years since their art beginnings in expressive, surrealist-inspired figurative imagery. Though often recognized for painting and large-scale sculpture, respectively, their prints reveal their extraordinary skill in drawing. Tanner’s untitled print of 1992 generates a zesty, sensual energy; while Bourgeois’s two prints from 1996 present centered labyrinths that mediate between abstraction and cell-like enclosures. 

Robert Gober’s print “Untitled” (1992-96) remains poignantly relevant to today’s debates regarding marriage equality. At a quick glance, the image appears to be a newspaper advertisement for a Saks Fifth Avenue bridal collection; however, the bride looks unsettled, rather than serenely joyous. The model for the bride is, in fact, a man (the artist, in a wig), and above the ad, is a faux headline: “Vatican Condones Discrimination Against Homosexuals.” However, some of the content is from an actual article titled “Vatican Condones Gay-Rights Limits.” In addition, the print was completed the same year that the federal Defense of Marriage Act was passed in the United States.

Maurice Sánchez studied art history and lithography at the University of New Mexico and painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. He also received a fellowship at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop (then in Los Angeles). In 1972, Petersburg Press recruited Sánchez to work in New York with James Rosenquist on a series of prints based on his paintings, including his monumental “F-111” (1964-65), which is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

When Sánchez founded his workshop in 1978, he called it “Derrière L’Étoile”—meaning “behind the star” in French­­—to express his role as part of a technical team supporting the artist in printmaking projects. “In the late 20th century, many artists created images by using original photography, as well as manipulating commercially published stock photographs or film stills,” Symmes explains. “Derrière L’Étoile Studio already excelled at lithography. It then became one of the first workshops to combine new offset, photographic, and digital technologies in realizing these innovative images.” The Studio continues to produce major prints and multiples projects by some of the most recognized names in contemporary art.

This exhibition is supported in part by the Fifth Floor Foundation.


Stars: Contemporary Prints by Derrière L’Étoile Studio” is spotlighted during the series “Insights: Gallery Talks” on Wednesday, December 4, beginning at 6 p.m., with a tour led by Marilyn Symmes, Director, Morse Research Center for Graphic Arts and Curator of Prints and Drawings. The Zimmerli Art Museum remains open from 5 to 9 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month. The tour is included with general admission, which is $6 for adults; $5 for 65 and over; and free for museum members, children under 18, and Rutgers students, faculty, and staff (with ID).

Films about Art and Artists” are screened the third Sunday of the month from 3 to 4 p.m. During the fall, selections from the critically acclaimed PBS series “Art 21: Art in the Twenty-First Century” feature insightful interviews with major contemporary artists, several of whom have works on view in the Zimmerli’s exhibition, “Derriere L’Etoile.” Episodes include: “Identity,” with Louise Bourgeois, Maya Lin, Kerry James Marshall, and Bruce Nauman (October 20); “Balance,” with Rackstraw Downes, Robert Mangold, and Sarah Sze (November 17); and “Power,” with Laylah Ali, Ida Applebroog, Cai Guo Qiang, and Krysztof Wodiczko (December 15). “Films about Art and Artists” are free with museum admission.

Schedule a guided group or class tour of “Stars: Contemporary Prints by Derrière L’Étoile Studio.” Docents are available to lead tours in English, French, and Spanish. Please schedule at least two weeks in advance by emailing


The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum houses more than 60,000 works of art, ranging from ancient to contemporary art. The permanent collection features particularly rich holdings in 19th-century French art; Russian art from icons to the avant-garde; Soviet nonconformist art from the Dodge Collection; and American art with notable holdings of prints. In addition, small groups of antiquities, old master paintings, as well as art inspired by Japan and original illustrations for children’s books, provide representative examples of the museum’s research and teaching message at Rutgers. One of the largest and most distinguished university-based art museums in the nation, the Zimmerli is located on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Established in 1766, Rutgers is America’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning and a premier public research university.


The Zimmerli’s operations, exhibitions, and programs are funded in part by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and income from the Avenir Foundation Endowment, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment, and the Voorhees Family Endowment, among others. Additional support comes from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; the Estate of Victoria J. Mastrobuono; and donors, members, and friends of the museum.


The Zimmerli Art Museum is located at 71 Hamilton Street at George Street on the College Avenue campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The Zimmerli is a short walk from the NJ Transit train station in New Brunswick, midway between New York City and Philadelphia.


Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and the first Wednesday of each month (except August), 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Z Café featuring the Food Architects is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a variety of breakfast, lunch, and snack items. The museum is closed Mondays, major holidays, and the month of August.


Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for 65 and over; and free for museum members, children under 18, and Rutgers students, faculty, and staff (with ID). Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month. For more information, call 848.932.7237 or visit the museum’s website:


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