An exhibit opening this week at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts offers 50 years of contemporary art through one of the most accessible mediums available: Printmaking.
"Prints, in their very nature, are the most democratic of art forms," said Whitney Tassie, UMFA's curator of modern and contemporary art. "A print by Jasper Johns is more accessible than a painting."
Johns is just one of the familiar names in the exhibit, "Under Pressure: Contemporary Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundations." Other well-known artists whose works are featured include Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Chuck Close, Barbara Kruger, Frank Stella, Sol LeWitt and Damien Hirst.
The touring exhibit features works of 40 artists, from the collections of Oregon philanthropist Jordan Schnitzer. Tassie said Schnitzer grew up learning about contemporary art, and is eager to share his collection with audiences across the country.
"He talks about his collection like it's a public collection," Tassie said.
Schnitzer will visit Salt Lake City on Saturday, taking part in a public talk about the exhibit and his collection at 6 p.m. at UMFA, 410 Campus Center Drive, on the University of Utah campus. The talk is followed by a community celebration, with refreshments, at 7 p.m. Both events are free.
Tassie has grouped the works thematically, rather than chronologically, to show that art movements don't fall into the rigid timelines sometimes taught in art-history class.
"They're much more fluid. They straddle movements," Tassie said, adding that the works are "more in dialogue together. Every artist reacts to the artists that come before."
For example, one room is centered on photo-realistic works and includes one of Chuck Close's famous mosaic self-portraits. It is placed near one of Edward Ruscha's fold-out books. On one wall, one of Johns' American Flag prints hangs near an iconic American star by Robert Indiana, which is next to a more satirical look at American dominance by Mexican-American artist Enrique Chagoya.
One of the highlights is a series of six prints, Lichtenstein's "Bull Profile Series," which begins with a line-drawing depiction of a cow and makes the animal progressively more abstract.
The exhibit, Tassie said, "is a great opportunity to look at contemporary art," a subject that's new to some UMFA patrons. "I've been looking at this as sort of Art History 101," she added.
'Under Pressure: Contemporary Prints from the Collections of Joseph D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation," an exhibit of contemporary art prints by 40 artists.
Where • Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 410 Campus Center Drive, University of Utah campus, Salt Lake City.
When • Now through Jan. 5, 2014.
Admission • $7 for adults; $5 for students and seniors, free for children 5 and under, military families and U. of U. students, staff and faculty.
Event • A public talk with art collector Jordan D. Schnitzer happens Saturday, Sept. 7, at 6 p.m., at the museum. A community celebration follows. Both events are free.