Monday, September 2, 2013

Picasso to Thiebaud: Modern and Contemporary Art

Picasso to Thiebaud: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Collections of Stanford University Alumni and Friends appeared at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University February 18–June 20, 2004.

Picasso to Thiebaud featured 65 paintings and sculptures from more than 40 private collections throughout the United States, ranging from a little-known 1901 Picasso painting,

Courtesan with Hat,

to a 2002 Sean Scully oil, Pink Wall of Light.

The selections in the exhibition run the gamut of 20th- and early-21st century art and were chosen to illustrate the range and excellence of the Arts Center's collections.

Selections for the exhibition represent major European and American art movements of the last century—such as Cubism, Orphism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop, Minimalism, and Color Field—with examples by Delaunay, Gris, LÈger, Kline, Pollock, Tobey, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Johns, Dine, Frankenthaler, Louis, Motherwell, Rivers, Park, Diebenkorn, Oliveira Jess, Lobdell, Mangold, Stella, Hockney, Katz, and Thiebaud. Works by important 20th-century sculptors such as Lipchitz, Calder, Moore, David Smith, Le Witt, Neri, Voulkos, Arneson, Conner, Westermann, Christo, Butterfield, and Holzer were also be on display.

Frank Auerbach Head of Catherine Lampert, 1986 Oil on canvas Photo: Frank Auerbach Michael D. Dennis

A unique aspect of the exhibition was that its

fully illustrated color catalogue
was written by graduate and undergraduate students at Stanford University. During the academic year, a seminar at the Cantor Arts Center entitled "Anatomy of an Exhibition," instructed students in exhibition organization and catalogue research and preparation. The entries about the objects in the show were written by the students, who met with alumni throughout the country, viewed their collections, and spoke with them about their passion for art.

The catalogue features comments by the lenders concerning their collections and the role that Stanford played in shaping their taste. Essays will be included by university president John Hennessy, art history professor Wanda M. Corn, Cantor Arts Center director Thomas K. Seligman, and the course instructors, Faberman and the Center's curator for education Patience Young. Faberman also selected the objects for the show.

The class also planned the installation and worked on the labels and other didactic material for the exhibition. During the run of the show, which closed on June 20, 2004, students gave tours.

Excerpted from an excellent review to be found here: (images added):
Wayne Thiebaud may seem several worlds away from the innovations that made Picasso the man to beat for ambitious painters for half a century. But Thiebaud's "Dark Land" (1997), an elevated fantasy view of farmland and river, toys with vanishing points and depictive paradox in ways even Picasso might recognize as distant echoes of cubism.

One passage in the show begins with still lifes,

"Scissors" (1959)

and "Knife and Tomato" (1963), by Richard Diebenkorn,

flanking David Bates' "Purple Iris" (1997), which ruggedly evokes van Gogh and features a knife that recalls the lore of van Gogh's self-mutilation.

On the same wall, the eye goes immediately to Rebecca Horn's motorized sculpture "The Polish Sisters" (1994), in which a yardstick swings below from wires hooked to upright pairs of snipping scissors.

Alongside the Horn hangs Jim Dine's "The Yellow Painting" (1972-73), in which real tools, including bolt-cutters and pliers, suggest characters in some cryptic allegory of studio life.

William Bailey's "Still Life Torre" (1984) serves as a classical coda to this rambunctious sequence. Its depicted shelf, crowded with bowls and other vessels, rhymes with the real shelf Dine attached to his painting.

Other affinities among works on view declare themselves less openly or less suggestively. The soft rectangles that fill Sean Scully's sumptuous painting "Pink Wall of Light" (2002) echo the uncarved top halves of the square cedar beams in Ursula von Rydingsvard's sculpture "Pink Companion" (1991), standing nearby.

The rounded bottom profile of

Robert Mangold's shaped abstraction "X Series -- Central Diagonal 1 (A)" (1968)

rhymes with the curve of the string that drapes across

Jasper Johns' painting "Bridge" (1997).

The two pictures, which hang side by side, have diamond shapes in common as well, though little comes of these resemblances.