October 01, 2011 - April 02, 2012
Exhibition podcast from Curator, Leah Lehmbeck is posted here
The Norton Simon Museum presents an exciting exhibition that explores the significance of printmaking and its new possibilities as first re-envisioned in Southern California in the mid-20th century. Drawing from the Museum’s extensive print collection and a few select loans, the exhibition includes approximately 125 prints, portfolios and multiples, including works by the local founders of the movement, such as John Altoon, Garo Antreasian, Richard Diebenkorn, Sam Francis, Ed Moses, Ken Price, Ed Ruscha and June Wayne. Proof also includes works by a significant number of artists who traveled west to print specifically in Los Angeles, such as Josef Albers, Louise Nevelson, Claes Oldenburg and Robert Rauschenberg.
Printmaking had for centuries been explored by painters and sculptors alike—most notably Rembrandt van Rijn, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes and Pablo Picass0—but it was not embraced by the 20th-century American avant-garde, though there were a few exceptions. In 1960, Los Angeles– based artist June Wayne took it upon herself to “create a pool of master artisan-printers in the United States.” These words were spoken at the founding of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles by Wayne, who, through her dedication and hard work, created a workshop that would educate printers, artists, curators and collectors alike. Indeed, Tamarind sparked a renaissance in the graphic arts—a revival that spread well beyond Los Angeles and the medium of lithography. In the next few decades, all methods of printmaking would be established and legitimized as viable and valuable forms of art making.
Throughout the 1960s, Tamarind opened its doors to artists both experienced and inexperienced in printmaking. Many world-renowned painters and sculptors made the journey to Los Angeles to learn the craft at Tamarind. The artists’ two-month fellowships were staggered so that no two artists were new at the same time. Wayne established the editioning of prints so that twenty from each edition went to the artist, and nine went to Tamarind. In this way, the workshop was able to donate a complete set of every work it produced to nine public institutions, thereby spreading the knowledge of printmaking and building enthusiasm for the medium among curators and collectors. The Norton Simon Museum is home to a near-complete set of prints created at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, and Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California features nearly 70 of these works. The artists represented range from John Altoon, Billy Al Bengston, Vija Celmins, Bruce Conner, Richard Diebenkorn, Sam Francis, David Hockney, Ed Moses, Lee Mullican, Louise Nevelson, Ed Ruscha, and Norman Zammitt, to June Wayne herself.
Altogether, the artworks featured in Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California tell the fascinating but seldom-explored story of the renaissance of fine-art lithography in Los Angeles in the 20th century. Starting with small local efforts in the first half of the century, to June Wayne and the founding of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in the 1960s, and on to the establishment of Gemini G.E.L. and Cirrus Editions in the mid-1960s and 1970s, printmaking became an essential medium in an artist’s oeuvre, and Los Angeles was the birthplace of this effort.
About “The Original Print,” a companion exhibition
In conjunction with Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California, the Museum presents The Original Print, an exhibition that looks at the technical aspects of printmaking. Held in the small, rotating gallery on the Museum’s main level, the exhibition combines explanatory texts, archival documentation, photographs, video footage and the actual implements of printmaking (a woodblock, an etching plate, a lithography stone and a screen). A select group of prints on view serves to illustrate these concepts directly, in an effort to familiarize visitors with the methods and terminology used to describe the graphic arts.
About the Publication
Accompanying the Proof exhibition is a publication of the same name. With essays by established print scholars as well as fresh, new voices on the subject, this lavishly illustrated catalogue introduces the pioneers of printmaking in Los Angeles who nurtured an environment suitable for the founding of the country’s most significant print shop in 1960. By tracing the local printmaking communities, the academic establishment, as well as the significant influence of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop and other venerable workshops founded by Tamarind-trained printers, like Gemini G.E.L. and Cirrus Editions, the catalogue addresses the spectacularly rapid spread of printmaking from its modern beginnings in Southern California. Proof is the first catalogue to discuss Los Angeles printmaking within the larger narrative of postwar American art.
Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California is curated by Leah Lehmbeck, Associate Curator at the Norton Simon Museum. The exhibition is part of Pacific Standard Time, an unprecedented collaboration of more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California, coming together to tell the story of the birth of the L.A art scene. Pacific Standard Time, an initiative of the Getty, will take place for six months beginning October 2011.
Tamarind Workshop became Tamarind Institute in 1970 when it moved to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where it continues to this day. Clinton Adams, another of the important artists who worked with June Wayne at Tamarind, was instrumental in establishing the teaching workshop as an enduring institution: "An Informed Energy: Lithography and Tamarind" written by Clinton Adams
June Wayne passed away on August 23, 2011, a few weeks before the opening of this important overview mapping her impact on the art scene in Los Angeles. This exhibition is a tribute to the perception, talent, vitality and tenacity of this exceptional American artist. She will be missed by all in a community that spans generations of artists all of over the world.
"June Wayne’s impact on the art world will be felt for many generations. Her visionary plan for expanding the breadth of expressive possibilities available to American artists manifested itself in the founding of Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Inc., in 1960. We honor her legacy by perpetuating her ideals and, above all, her passion for lithography. June touched many of our lives in immeasurable ways and the art world is all the richer for her broad participation and advocacy." -From the Tamarind Institute