By Vanessa Tang
Robert Rausschenberg is among the prominent artists currently on display at UC Santa Barbara in an exhibition called Prints! The Joan and Stuart Levin Collection. The main focus of this showcase is contemporary works on paper and printmaking from the 1960s, from artists like Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns who were revolutionary in this form of artistic expression.
Comprised of art pieces from Los Angeles collectors Joan and Stuart Levin, the display brings both personal and historical narratives during that time period to attention. It features a number of geometric and abstract prints along the walls and on the pillars of the Art, Design and Architecture Museum.
Sarah Bane, a UCSB PhD student in the History of Art and Architecture, carefully curated this exhibition to be displayed for about two months. In a recent interview, Bane talked about her specialty and her experience with the process of curating Prints!
I saw that you are focusing in European and American printmaking and did other exhibitions on prints. I was wondering what made you interested in that.
I’m getting my PhD in prints and drawing, and I ultimately want to be a curator of prints and drawings…. I really love printmaking’s ability to create [a] community of people who love art because of the serial nature of a print. A print is anything made from a matrix, and usually they’re made in multiples. It’s an original artwork but you might have 50 of one edition. Fifty people all around the world would all have the same original artwork and kind of have this shared experience. I really love that prints can create this community across different regions.
Did you know collectors Joan and Stu Levin personally?
No, I met them through the museum [because they are] involved in the museum environment and the university’s museum. My advisor is the director of the art museum so he made the connection that I would be a good fit for curating the exhibition.
How perfect! Can you talk a little about the theme of the exhibition and why you think this was chosen by the museum to be featured?
Joan and Stu have had this phenomenal collecting practice that we are so lucky to feature in the museum, and a lot of their collecting interests stem from their own personal interest in the 1960s, a dynamic moment in the political history of the United States and also in printmaking history. These two things are occurring simultaneously and so they really gravitated towards artists like Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and a host of other artists that really highlight this interest of theirs.
The first piece you see when you enter the gallery is the Black Series by Frank Stella. Why did you choose this for the first piece?
It’s one of the earliest pieces so it’s like an introduction to ‘60s printmaking, but it’s also a fabulous piece that shows how artists use printmaking, specifically because it highlights the process of lithography. It also embraces the margins of the paper... distinctive to printmaking. He’s not filling the whole space on the page, he has large white spaces around each of his compositions.
Besides that one, how did you decide to arrange all of the other images? Was there a specific relationship between one piece and the next piece to it in the gallery?
[There are] thematic grouping of works that I wanted to have in conversation with one another. The left wall is works that are more political. Then if you went around in a circle [you would see] more personal works. As for the pillars, the temporary structures inside the gallery are works more personal to Stu, and would be more representative of his collecting practice. So we have those two together: a historical narrative but also a personal narrative of the collector.
Do you feel like you accomplished everything you wanted to with this exhibition? Were there any limitations, or anything you wish you could have done more?
I’m so happy with how it turned out, the way it is laid out in the space. I really wouldn’t change anything. I’m really just so grateful for this experience and how it turned out.
The Prints! The Joan and Stuart Levin Collection is available to the public for viewing at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum at the University of California until Sunday, December 9, 2018.
Vanessa Tang is a third year Political Science major at UC Santa Barbara.