I BEGAN COLLECTING ART AT THE AGE OF FOURTEEN when I purchased a small painting from the Fountain Gallery of Art; it was the first contemporary art gallery in Portland, and had been opened by my mother, Arlene Schnitzer. It was through her leadership in the local arts community and the exposure in the gallery that I developed a lifelong passion for the arts.
While I have continued our family legacy of collecting art from our region, I began acquiring contemporary prints and multiples in earnest in 1988, sparked by a keen interest in the inventiveness of the medium. The Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation collection, as well as my own personal collection, contain a broad range of artists, but at that time I began focusing on collecting work in depth by some of the seminal artists of postwar America, such as Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, John Baldessari, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Bruce Nauman, Jim Dine, Chuck Close, and Kara Walker, to name only a few of the 250 artists in the collections, many of whom are represented in this exhibition.
As the collections grew, so did requests from museums wishing to borrow work for loans and exhibitions. Today the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation manages an active lending program guided by two goals that are close to my heart: making the work easily available to qualified institutions, especially in less-served communities, and supporting those exhibition-related activities that foster education and inquiry. Of particular interest to me is making sure that children of all ages have access to the work of these talented artists of our time.
So far, we have sponsored more than 80 major exhibitions curated solely from our collections, which now exceed 8,000 works. We are honored that these exhibitions have traveled to over 75 museums both large and small throughout the country and internationally.
Each exhibition is accompanied by complimentary brochures featuring essays by noted art critics, writers, or curators from museums, publications that are made available for these museum audiences. In recent years, I have also expanded our mission to include the publication of hardcover exhibition catalogs and books such as the 850-page catalogue raisonné of prints for Ellsworth Kelly, and John Baldessari’s print catalogue raisonné, as well as other books related to our major exhibitions.
Creating a long and lasting impact through the arts has also inspired me to provide significant funding for the renovation and construction of two university museums that now bear my name; the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, which will be completed in 2016.
I could not be prouder to be part of helping these institutions become beacons for art on their campuses and in their communities. Our goal is to help thousands of students become comfortable going to museums. It is our hope that they will then return to communities across the country and become art museum patrons.
Finally, I would like to thank Sotheby’s, in particular Mary Bartow, Senior Vice President and Head of the Department of Prints, and Molly Steiger, Specialist-in-Charge, Contemporary Prints, for their suggestion that we exhibit highlights from my collections in the gorgeous exhibition space at Sotheby’s on York Avenue in New York. I also owe a sincere debt of gratitude to Sharon Coplan Hurowitz, who I first met at Sotheby’s, for her guiding hand in helping me build the collections over these past twenty years and for curating this exhibition. I would also like to thank Catherine Malone, our Collection Manager, and Tracy Savage, our Collection Curator, for all of their hard work.
In conclusion, I want to say how fortunate I feel to find so much joy in having lived with art for such a major part of my life, and for the passion I have in sharing my collections with others. I hope you enjoy this exhibition that and it inspires you to look at prints and multiples in ways that you never have before!
JORDAN D. SCHNITZER