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Works from the Kramersky Collection on View at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente
Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1963-1964. Collage, gouache, watercolor, and black ink on paper, 55.9 x 76.2 cm.

SEGOVIA.- The term “minimalisms” defines the New York private collection from which the exhibition at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente is drawn.

The Kramarsky Collection is one of the most prestigious and active in the scene of American contemporary art, concentrating its interest on drawing as an independent artistic language. The collection consists of over 3000 works of art created from the mid-20th century to the present. While known for its strength in Minimalist drawings of the 1960s, the collection additionally features works that constitute Minimalism’s contemporary legacy, as well as abstract works that are gesturally expressive in nature and intent.

Strictly defined, American Minimalism can be limited to a handful of artists--principally Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Robert Morris, all of whom are represented in this exhibition—and the object-oriented approach to abstraction that they began to envision and promote around 1963.

Recent scholarship, however, acknowledges the “essential heterogeneity” of the movement and agrees that Minimalism is actually “minimalisms,” a plurality that reverberates far beyond its original precepts. Indeed, it can be argued that this collection has quietly identified this diversity.

In Europe, selections from the Kramarsky Collection have been shown, under the auspices of the Harvard Art Museum, at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna (1998); the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (1998-1999); the Kunstmuseum Ahlen, Germany; the Akademie der Künste, Berlin; the Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain and the Musée de Picardie, Amiens, France (1999). This is the first time the collection will be shown in Spain.

This exhibition places Minimalism in a wide context, recognizing its debts to Abstract Expressionism and its hints of Pop art, acknowledging its brushes with science and literature, and embracing its connections to Earthworks, Conceptual art, and performance art. Less conclusively but perhaps most significantly, this exhibition also attempts to bring to light shared sensibilities, visual and conceptual interconnections and, last but not least, inevitable aesthetic differences, conflicts, and reversals among the works displayed.

The show presents a selection of 117 works by 71 artists. The oldest artists shown—Esteban Vicente, Barnett Newman, and David Smith—were born in the first decade of the 20th century. John Cage and Agnes Martin were born in the next decade; Douglas Huebler, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, and Cy Twombly followed in the 1920s.

The 1930s constitutes the larger group of artists, represented by the founders of Minimalism (apart from Judd and LeWitt, born in the year 1928). Morris, Flavin, and Andre were also born in this period. Following them are Robert Ryman, Jasper Johns, William Anastasi, Eva Hesse, Frank Stella, Ed Ruscha, Robert Mangold, Robert Smithson, Brice Marden and Richard Serra, amongst others. The collection continues on with artists from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, to finish with the younger ones, who were born in the 70s such as Kristin Holder, Susanna Hardwood Rubin and Marjorie Welish.

In numerous instances, this exhibition pairs early drawings by a given artist with examples of his or her more recent work. This trend sheds light on the collector’s sustained engagement with artists’ careers and his refusal to focus solely on those periods that happen to garner critical interest.

The collector’s ability to select works of art based on merit, without attention paid to the artists’ signatures, is evident throughout this exhibition. He collects drawings, not names; this commitment explains the simultaneous presence in the collection of both Minimalist masters and younger artists such as Eve Aschheim, Jill Baroff, Nancy Haynes, Sharon Louden, Carol Seborovski, Steven Steinman and Joan Waltemath.

In addition to exploring the logic of the Kramarsky Collection, this exhibition encourages viewers to attend to the visual evidence of the creative process, in asking before each artwork, “How was this made?”

The museum would also like to note the presence in the exhibition of three artists born in Spain: Esteban Vicente, who died in 2001 and to whom this Museum is devoted, Teo González and Elena del Rivero, who live and work in New York.

Wynn Kramarsky currently serves on the Board of Trustees of New York’s Museum of Modern Art —where he is active on the Drawings, Education, Library and Museum Archives committees—and also on the Board of Trustees of the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. He has formerly served as Chairman of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. and as Chairman of The Drawing Center in New York.

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