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Though widely divergent in their concerns and approaches, the artists in this exhibition share an interest in exploring paint as an expressive medium and image making as a layered, experiential endeavor. For all the artists, surface and image coalesce in what David Deutsch described as a “balance of control and accident.” While Fariba Hajamadi’s diptych combines oil paint and photographic emulsion to create a mysterious narrative, Josef Ramaseder’s abstract painting relies on the centering force of a radiating wheel. For both, the images made by heat and light are as important as those made by the artist’s hand.
Similarly, the examples by Christian Eckart and Tony Tasset blur distinctions between both sculpture and painting, and manufactured material and organic matter, as materials like gold leaf and animal fur begin to function as paint. Bill Jones, whose photograph The Sign of the Angels reminds us of the popularity of spirit photography in the late nineteenth-century, and Deutsch, in his untitled landscape, exploit the possibilities inherent in the pairing of detail and blurred image. Seen together, these eight works animate a continuing dialogue about expanding boundaries and artistic innovation in the 1980s.
The Zimmerli’s collection, like that of many university art museums, has grown in large part due to the generosity of alumni who have donated art and resources to acquire works of art. The paintings and photographs in Looking Back at the 1980s: Gifts to the Collection were given to the museum by Leonard Rosenberg, Rutgers College Class of 1960.
Organized by Donna Gustafson, Curator of American Art and Mellon Director for Academic Programs, with the assistance of Kaitlin Booher and Todd Caissie, Mellon 2016 Summer Interns
Vortex Painting, 1987
Oil on thermal paper mounted on linen
84 1/16 x 64 3/16 in. (213.5 x 163 cm)
Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers
Gift of Leonard Rosenberg
Photo Peter Jacobs