University of Colorado President, Elizabeth Hoffman, in collaboration with the CU Art Museum in Boulder and the Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Present: Selections from the Colorado Collection: Four Vignettes.
The Vignettes, or small exhibitions are:
A Looking Glass of One’s Own: Contemporary Women Photographers
Two Mexican Views: Photographs by Paul Strand and Manuel Bravo
Books, Maps, and Multiples: Contemporary Graphic Art
Minimalism: Presence – Absence
These exhibitions were selected from the Colorado Collection, the CU Art Museum’s permanent collection, by Lisa Tamiris Becker (CU Art Museum Director) with organizational assistance from Brigit Carlin (CU Art Museum’s Collection Manager). The last time an exhibition from this extensive state-owned art collection was shown at the Gallery of Contemporary Art was in March of 2002. This particular show was guest curated by Bridget Carlin. Lisa Becker’s selections focus on modern and contemporary art organized into four exhibitions featuring contemporary women photographers; photographs of Mexico by two masters, Paul Stand and Manuel Bravo; Contemporary prints and artists’ books; and selections of significant minimalist works on paper. The collection was started in 1939 to be used as a teaching tool for students. It has grown into a comprehensive collection that enriches the educational experience of students, faculty, and the broader CU community, as well as the general public, through exposure to origional works of art and thus art history, museum studies, contemporary art practice, and various social and cultural issues that can be addressed through viewing such art.
The Colorado Collection, has grown over the years through the generosity of many donors and mosest acquisition funds. Over the last three decades, it has grown rappidly as a result of faculty and student collaboration with the CU Boulder Art Department’s Visiting Artist Program. More than 370 artists, critics, and curators have been involved with this program since 1970. Many of these individuals contributed works to the collection. Areas of concentration are old Master works on paper, American prints of the 1930’s and 1940’s, documentary photography, Japanese ukiyo-e prints, 19th century German landscapes, pop art and contemporary prints and paintings. Major gifts from Polly and Mark Addison beginning in the early 1990’s significantly expanded the contemporary graphics in the collection.
A Looking Glass of One’s Own: Contmporary Women Photographers
Since it’s inception in the first half of the nineteenth century, women have been active practitioners of the science and art of photography, carving out a space of their own within the history of photography and thereby assuring the canonization of subject matter crucial to the lives of women. Artists included in this section include Judy Dater, Meridel Rubenstein, Cindy Sherman, Carrie Mae Weems, and Orit Raff, representing generations of prominent contemporary women photographers.
Two Mexican Views: Paul Strand and Manuel Bravo
Strand’s photographs, taken in 1932 durring an extended stay in Mexico, depict street scenes, architecture, religious statuary, and the people of Mexico. “(Photography) is the language in which Strand has written the most eloquent paean to the stregth and dignitiy of man, to the brooding violence and beauty of nature”, wrote Leo Hurwitz in his introduction to Strand’s Mexican portfolio. The images are reproduced by Photogravure, which gives them lush and richly toned surfaces and exquisite detail.
Manuel Alvarez Bravo is considered Mexico’s greatest photographer. This group of black and white photographs reflect daily life in both the city and countryside. Elegant and rich in texture, Bravo’s images isolate the poetic, revealing the lyrical shape of a plant’s leaves, the interlocking forms of an adobe entranceway, the pattern of people against the horizon. These brilliantly composed images have a sence of timelessness.
Books, Maps and Multiples: Contemporary Graphics
The arts of printmaking, bookmaking, and mapmaking have an intertwined history within the arts. This exhibition highlights diverse approaches to the art of the multiple featuring contemporary artists’ prints and books, as well as the continued use of map imagery by contemporary artists. The exhibition includes the 92″ long codex by Mexican American artist Enrique Chagoya, which comments on the contemporary society while referring back in form, structure, and content to the ancient Meso-American codex. Also included is Jane Hammond’s astrological map print My Heavens!, and Hung Lui’s prints The Bride and Leaping, which merge influences from Chinese Social Realism with painterly expressionism to comment on dramatic political and social changes in China in the 20th century.
Minimalism: Presence – Absence
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, artists such as Donald Judd theorized that art should be reduced to it’s very essentials. This radical strategy of reduction yeilded not only subtlety of form, color, and light but aspired to achieve a greater presence through absence. The emphasis on refined differentiation achieved by minimalist reduction paradoxically often manifested itself most effectively in seriality. This section includes portfolios by Sol LeWitt and Dorthea Rockburne, as well as individual prints by Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella.
Additional support for the exhibitions provided by the Colorado Council on the Arts, a stage agency funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Colorado General Assembly; the UCCS Student Government Association on the behalf of the student body’s cultural awareness; and the museum’s membership.