Installation view of Highlights from the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation.
NEW YORK - “I always preach the importance of supporting local artists,” says collector and philanthropist Jordan D. Schnitzer. In this case, the locality is New York City, at Sotheby’s 10TH floor galleries, where 85 contemporary prints and multiples – many of which are comprised of sets of ten or more pieces (totaling some 370 objects) – selected from the more than 8,000 such examples in the Schnitzer Family Foundation collection, are on view through February 11. Among the artists included are Louise Bourgeois, Chuck Close, Donald Judd, Richard Prince and Wangechi Mutu. “In New York, these are your local artists,” says the Portland, Oregon-based Schnitzer, who explains that the show is in the form of an imagined conversation between the varied creative voices.
Collector and philanthropist Jordan D. Schnitzer.
The dialogue between works reflects the influences swirling in the collective atmosphere. A suite of John Baldessari prints from 2012 combine a snippet of Matisse’s Goldfish and Sculpture with text naming eight varieties of soup – a cheeky reference to Andy Warhol’s series of Campbell’s Soup cans series, ten examples of which are hanging in the same gallery space. Elsewhere, a set of nine prints from Frank Stella’s 1970 Aluminum series are hung near David Hockney’s Henry and Christopher in the Chateau Marmont Hotel, Hollywood, which features a collaged inset of a Stella painting.
Bruce Nauman’s Double Poke in the Eye II. Neon tubing with clear glass tubing suspension supports, mounted on aluminum panel.
One of the most striking aspects of this exhibition is how it challenges the boundaries of what constitutes a print and what defines an edition. Although the majority of works are on paper, some are three-dimensional, including a neon work by Bruce Nauman and a set of Jeff Koons lithographs is paired with an inflatable editioned toy elephant. Throughout, there’s an emphasis on what Schnizter calls “technological wizardry” exploited during the production process. Ellen Gallagher’s DeLuxe, 2004-05, comprises 60 pieces for which the artist has detourned the pages of vintage magazines with techniques ranging from aquatint to alteration with a tattoo gun, and Claes Oldenburg’s Profile Airflow – Test Mold Front End, 1972, utilizes molded polyurethane to create a uniquely sculptural print.
Ellen Gallagher’s DeLuxe, 2004-05.
“I love all mediums, but I especially love works on paper because of the collaborative effort,” Schnitzer says, citing revered publishers like Two Palms and Gemini G.E.L., whose master printer James Reid is a favorite of Ellsworth Kelly. While some collectors might be obsessed with the unique nature of a single art object, Schnitzer takes a different tack. “I’m often asked, ‘Does it bother you that there are multiple copies of these works?’” he says. “It’s just the opposite. The thought that other people are experiencing these same pieces brings me even greater joy.” Prints and multiples, he adds, can be easily loaned and exhibited in large numbers more easily than painting or sculpture. This is a significant benefit for Schnitzer, who has prioritized loans form the foundation to major institutions as well as regional museums in places like Oklahoma City and Missoula, Montana.
Ellsworth Kelly. Suite of Twenty-Seven Color Lithographs: Blue and Orange and Green. Lithograph from the portfolio of 27, 1964-5.
That aim underscores the works’ inclusive, democratic appeal – something that is paramount for this collector, who has made it his mission to share art with those who might not encounter it on a regular basis. “This may sound peculiar, but I have no sense of ownership with this work – only a sense of stewardship and responsibility, to make sure it is getting out to these audiences,” he says. The Sotheby’s exhibition is, above all, about celebrating the artists. “Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Ellen Gallagher – and all these brilliant people,” he says. “When you’re in the gallery, it’s like being in a room with individuals who changed the world.”