Simmons Collection of Postwar American Prints Spotlighted at Saint Louis Art Museum

  • May 19, 2022 16:18

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Enrique Chagoya, American (born Mexico), born 1953; “Illegal Alien's Guide to Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, 2010; lithograph with chine colle; sheet: 24 5/8 x 40 3/4 inches, image (variable): 23 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons
Kara Walker, American, born 1969; “The Keys to the Coop”, 1997; linocut; 46 1/4 x 60 1/2 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 847:2020; © Kara Walker
Jane Hammond, American, born 1950; “My Heavens”, 2004; lithograph with silver mylar and chine colle; sheet: 30 3/8 x 51 1/4 inches, framed: 36 3/8 x 57 3/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 618:2020; © Jane Hammond
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Enrolled Salish, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation, MT, born 1940; “Celebrate 40,000 Years of American Art”, 1995; collagraph; image: 71 1/4 x 47 3/8 inches , sheet: 78 1/8 x 53 3/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons. © Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York
Edward Ruscha, American, born 1937; “SHIP”, 1986; lithograph; sheet: 45 inches x 33 9/16 inches, framed: 52 1/2 x 41 5/16 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 777:2020; © Ed Ruscha
Maryanne Ellison Simmons and Ted Simmons.
Peter Hujar, American, 1934-1987; “Candy Darling on Her Deathbed”, 1973; gelatin silver print; image: 14 5/8 x 14 5/8 inches, sheet: 19 7/8 inches x 16 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 731:2020; © Estate of Peter Hujar
David Wojnarowicz, American, 1954-1992; “Untitled (Face in Dirt)”, 1991; gelatin silver print; image: 19 inches x 19 3/4 inches, sheet: 19 7/8 inches x 24 inches, framed: 25 3/4 x 26 3/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons. Courtesy of the Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P·P·O·W, New York

The Saint Louis Art Museum next month will open “Catching the Moment: Contemporary Art from the Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons Collection,” an exhibition celebrating the 2020 acquisition of more than 800 works of art that has elevated the museum’s holdings of postwar American prints.

Opening June 26, 2022, the exhibition presents more than 190 objects from this collection—a rich variety of prints, drawings, collages, artists’ books, photographs, a painting and editioned three-dimensional objects by a diverse group of 39 artists, predominantly active in the United States from the mid-20th century to today. Key works on view include Bruce Conner’s “BOMBHEAD,” Helen Frankenthaler’s “Savage Breeze,” Wayne Thiebaud’s “Candy Apples,” Kara Walker’s “Keys to the Coop” and H. C. Westermann’s “The Connecticut Ballroom.”

Ted L. Simmons is the former St. Louis Cardinals catcher and switch hitter, who was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020. Maryanne Ellison Simmons is an artist and a printer-publisher who established her own fine-art printing press, Wildwood Press, in St. Louis in 1996. The acquisition is a partial gift and partial purchase: the married couple donated 50 percent of the value of the entire collection and the museum purchased the remaining stake.

As collectors, the Simmonses focused on art and artists of their own time, and the couple was particularly drawn to works that addressed social issues and historical moments that were important to them, including the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and the AIDS crisis. “Catching the Moment” explores artists’ responses to these and other issues while helping visitors understand the many connections between works from artists across the Simmons collection.

The Simmonses collected some artists in depth, and “Catching the Moment” reflects this with expanded presentations of work by artists like Kiki Smith, whose work explores the body and self as well as environmental concerns; Enrique Chagoya, who deploys a global array of visual culture in his critique of colonialism and injustice; and Tom Huck, a master of rural Missouri scoundrel epics in woodcut form.

Peter Hujar, Paul Thek and David Wojnarowicz were friends and peers of Smith, and they worked within the community of artists that coalesced before and during the AIDS crisis. H. C. Westermann’s nightmarish evocations of the Pacific chapter of World War II appear alongside Bruce Nauman’s often biting socio-political commentary and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s forceful foregrounding of Native American history. The exhibition also highlights the appropriation of historical and contemporary visual material found in the work of Jane Hammond, Roger Shimomura and Tony Fitzpatrick.

Catching the Moment will remain on view through Sept. 11. Tickets are available in person at the museum or through MetroTix, which charges an additional fee.

The exhibition is curated by Elizabeth Wyckoff, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs; Andrea L. Ferber, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; and Clare Kobasa, assistant curator for prints, drawings, and photographs. “Catching the Moment” is accompanied by a 172-page, hardcover catalogue that includes an interview with the Simmonses and essays by the co-curators, as well as Sophie Barbisan, the museum’s associate paper conservator.


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