Views from treasured collectors in Southern California. Click on any image to learn more about these wonderful collections.
The Lending Collection
written by Grove Kroger
A Passion for Sharing Art
We’re used to the presence of tensions in the art world—old values versus new concepts, “proper” versus improper imagery, figurative versus abstract. Art history is nothing more than a selective record of how those tensions have played out over the centuries.
One of the tensions prominent in today’s art scene can be summed up in two closely related questions: Whose art is it? and, Which audiences do artists create their art for? Jordan Schnitzer and his Family Foundation have been forging creative answers to these vital questions for years. As a result, more than one hundred institutions across the country, including the Palm Springs Art Museum, have been able to share the works of hundreds of artists with tens of thousands of members of the wider public.
Established in 1997 as a nonprofit organization, the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation manages a truly enormous collection. Together with Schnitzer’s own private holdings, it numbers more than 10,000 multiples and prints. To get an idea of the extraordinary range and depth of the two, you can survey a selected artist list at the foundation’s website. Names such as Josef Albers, Sam Francis, Richard Linder and Gerhard Richter stand out, but the list as a whole is a Who’s Who of modern and contemporary artists—those who are well known as well as many more who deserve to be.
Schnitzer bought his first piece of art from his mother’s Fountain Gallery in Portland—when he was 14! That initial purchase was the beginning of a lifelong love affair, as the young man developed an interest in prints and multiples, which he was drawn to for their technical versatility and collaborative nature.
“For me,” explains Schnitzer, “waking up each day without art around me would be like waking up without the sun. When you live with art around you, your mind and soul are filled with the beauty of life and the creativity of the human spirit.”
Schnitzer’s decision to share that beauty and creativity with deserving institutions has provided platforms for community discussion, impact and social change. As the foundation explains, its mission “is to make the contemporary prints and multiples from the collections … accessible to qualified museums in diverse communities.” It regards printmaking as being particularly important, and supports the “collaborative process” with educational and outreach grants.
The foundation carries a statement on its website from the International Print Center New York that elaborates on its philosophy. “Printmaking is the most democratic of visual art forms,” the Center argues. “Because of the multiplicity inherent in the medium, prints have played a unique role throughout history in recording and disseminating information about other cultures; in propagating new aesthetic movements and styles; in spreading propaganda and alternative political thinking across ideological and national boundaries; in disseminating religious images around the world; and in facilitating public dialogue.
“Long revered by artists for its accessibility and for the opportunities it offers for innovation and experimentation through multiples, printmaking can reach a wide and disparate public, which serves, for many, as their first direct exposure to the art world. From cereal boxes to the revered work of Ellsworth Kelly, printmaking is by nature more accessible and affordable.”
Last year, the University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass Amherst mounted a 60-piece exhibition that drew on the Schnitzer collections and examined the legacy of slavery in America. Titled Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power, it was made up of five dozen prints, sculptures, murals and individual pieces. In Schnitzer’s words, “No artist today does a better job [than Walker] of forcing the viewers to deal with stereotypes, gender, and race.”
Other exhibitions were held in 2017 at the Fairbanks Gallery, the Centro Cultural César Chávez, the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center and the Asian and Pacific Cultural Center. It’s a range of venues that clearly illustrates the commitment that the collector and his foundation have made to underserved communities.
Schnitzer likens the situation of art to that of literature, a subject that he earned his B.A. in. “What could be worse,” he wonders, “than writing and publishing a book and then having one person purchase all of them and store them in a basement somewhere, unread?”
To learn more about the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, visit www.jordanschnitzer.org.
written by Pamela Price
Warhol’s World at the Palm Springs Art Museum
The long-awaited exhibition Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation runs March 3 through May 20 at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Made up of over 250 Warhol prints and pieces of ephemera, including a number of the artist’s most iconic works, the show celebrates Pop Art’s leading exponent, and marks the third occasion that the museum has mounted shows drawing from the Schnitzer collections. The exhibition captures the era when Campbell’s Soup cans and Marilyn Monroe were hotly debated as appropriate artistic images, with Warhol winning the battle and subsequently turning a page in the history of twentieth century art.
”To say Andy Warhol changed the course of fine art is an understatement,” Jordan Schnitzer explains. “His work is as meaningful today as when it was completed.” Calling Warhol “a master colorist,” the collector points out that “his art is breathtaking visually and gripping thematically. I wish Warhol were alive and making art today to help us understand these complicated times we live in! “
Sara Krajewski, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Portland Art Museum, writes that “Andy Warhol was an obsessive observer who was never without a camera, always drawn to the impact of mechanical printing on the creation, reproduction and distributions of photographic imagery.“
The Palm Springs Art Museum’s Warhol exhibition will acquaint a new generation with the prolific artist’s work while providing those of us who remember his era with a flash of nostalgia. It’s the kind of exhibit you see once and then return to with your friends to share a few memories. Writer and Cathedral City resident Grace Robbins recalls taking daunting freight elevator rides to meet Warhol and his friends at his Factory, and muses that “it was an era not since repeated.