SAN DIEGO, CA.-
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is presenting Experiments on Stone: Four Women Artists from the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, continuing the Museums online exhibitions and programming. Drawn from the Museums collection, the exhibition explores the prints produced by Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, Gego, and Louise Nevelson at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles during the 1960s. The exhibition is live at MCASD.digital
Experiments on Stone explores the four artists distinct inquiries into printmaking, underscoring the importance of this experimental time in each of their careers. Recognizing that these artists worked in media outside of printmaking for a majority of their careers, this exhibition places their lithographs in direct dialogue with examples of their sculptural and textile work. In so doing, Experiments on Stone demonstrates how fruitful the fellowship at Tamarind proved. In each of their respective practices, the artists used lithography to work through three dimensional concerns and ideas on a two-dimensional surface.
The exhibition unearths this important and lesser-studied part of each artists body of work, explained exhibition curator Alana Hernandez. Some have natural affinities with each other, yet the exhibition shows how dynamic lithography can be. Each artist experimented and created prints utilizing different methods, emphasizing printmaking as a critical medium of experimentation.
Founded by artist June Wayne in 1960, Tamarind was at the forefront of imagining a print renaissance in the United States during the 1960s, fueled primarily by collaboration and innovation, and emphasizing professionalization and training. The workshop helped revive the medium of lithography, where the technique had dwindled just after mid-century due to economic pressures and the lack of master printers and print shops. Inviting painters and sculptors who might have never made prints before, Wayne anticipated that each invited artist could produce original, high-quality lithographs in collaboration with professional and master printers. Although the four artists did not overlap with one another during their residencies, the workshop itself serves as a connective thread through their varied bodies of work.
Under the directorship of Wayne, several women artistsincluding Albers, Asawa, Gego, and Nevelsonwere given the space to create and further the medium of lithography with unprecedented access to studio space and printers. Experiments on Stone is presented in partnership with the Feminist Art Coalition, focusing on the contributions of four women artists who generated substantial bodies of work in collaboration with the Tamarind Lithography Workshop.
Nevelson and Gego have interests in architectural forms and building. While Albers and Asawa have interests in weaving. Through our partnership with the Feminist Art Coalition, we continue our commitment to featuring female artists of note throughout the generations, added Hernandez.
Anni Albers (18991994)
Recognized for her inventive use of color and geometric patterning in weavings and textiles, Anni Albers turned exclusively to printmaking in the late 1960s, discarding the last of her looms in 1968. It was at Tamarind, with the encouragement of artist and director of the workshop June Wayne, that Albers began creating lithographs, studying the intricacies of lines and threads in a two-dimensional format. On paper, Albers found that she could break free from the rigid framework of the loom, effectively settingas she would saythe thread free.
Ruth Asawa (19262013)
Ruth Asawa is known primarily for her woven wire sculptures that seem to defy conventional notions of materiality and form. Yet Asawas three-dimensional wire constructions chiefly originated in two-dimensions, at the drafting table. Asawa was trained at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where she focused on design and drawing under Josef Albers (1888 1976). It was Albers who recommended Asawa for a fellowship at Tamarind, where she was able to experiment more concretely on a two-dimensional plane.
Gego (born Gertrude Goldschmidt) is widely regarded as a leading figure of 1960s and 1970s abstraction in Venezuela, where she is recognized for her geometric and kinetic sculptures and installations. Trained in architecture and engineering, Gego worked consistently with printmaking in both Venezuela and in the United States, completing numerous etchings, lithographs, and illustrated books throughout her career. A chief concern of Gegos was the notion of the line and its instability. During her time at Tamarind, first in 1963 and then again in 1966, she experimented with many of the forms and concepts that would reemerge in her later sculptural practice.
Louise Nevelson (18991988)
Louise Nevelsons work is characterized by dreamlike constructions that evoke dramatic cityscapes, such as that of New York City, where she lived and worked most of her life. Nevelson sought to transform discarded materials, provoking a conversation between the built and natural world. Much of her worksculptural and otherwiseis monochromatic, a strategy that enabled her to explore the play of light across surfaces. This interest in the effects of light and shadow, as well as her embrace of found materials, is exemplified in her lithographs from Tamarind.