It is rare in the complex and changing world of contemporary art that one person can have an impact on an entire field. The genre of works on paper has been fortunate in finding such an individual, Wynn Kramarsky, who responds with intelligence and passion, and perhaps more importantly, support for artists working in a media that traditionally has been considered secondary in the hierarchy of art.
Following a career that has taken him though the Navy, Wall Street, and New York politics, he has emerged in the last decade as a major advocate for contemporary drawing, amassing a collection of over 2,500 works. His concern with both starting and maintaining the careers of artists whose work he responds to, as much as building his collection, has given his efforts a philanthropic character which is unusual and progressive. It is appropriate that The Aldrich Museum, whose mission is fostering new art, is presenting this selection from the Kramarsky Collection. Our approach of exhibiting the emerging with the established finds a remark able parallel in Kramarsky's collecting philosophy.
Drawing, perhaps the most basic and instinctual of media, has prospered in recent years. It is interesting that despite the frequent cry of "Painting is Dead!", not even a whisper has been raised concerning the health of drawing. This is a testament to the fundamental importance of mark making, an importance that has lead to its embrace by virtually every new movement, from conceptualism to recent body and gender-oriented work. The works in this exhibition makes a case for the relevance and growing autonomy of works on paper. What unifies these drawings, other than their scale, is their sense of presence — a presence in not only form and space, but of each artists eloquent touch. I am grateful to Wynn for both his contagious enthusiasm and support of this project and his creative input at every step. Special thanks also go to Peter Muscato for his knowledge of the collection and his organizational help.
Curated by Richard Klein
Alice Aycock was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1946. After graduating in 1968 from Douglas College, she completed her M.A. at Hunter College in 1971. Aycock'swork, which includes sculpture, installation, and drawing, has been exhibited extensively in national and international museums, including The Museum of Modern Art, NewYork; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; tl1e Stedelijk Museum, Amster dam; tl1e Tel Aviv Museum; and tl1e Serpentine Gallery, London. Her work was included in two Wlutney Biennials (1979 and 1981); the Venice Biennale (1982); and Documenta 6, in Kassel, Germany (1977). In 1983 she was the subject of a major retrospective at ilie Wurttembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, which traveled iliroughout Europe to such venues as tl1e Kunst1nuseum Luzern, Switzerland, and tl1e Hague Municipal Museum, Holland. In 1990 ilie Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, New York, presented a twenty-year overview of Aycock's work, including major outdoor installation. She lives and works in New York City.
Sol LeWitt was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1928 and received a B.F.A. from Syracuse University in 1949. Considered a central figure in the development of conceptual and minimal art, he has expanded his formal vocabulary to include sculpture, photography, books, prints, drawings, and wall drawings. LeWitt has exhibited exten sively nationally and internationally, and has been the subject of several major retrospectives, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1978 and 1996), The New Britain Museum of American Art (1989), the Musee National d'Art Moderne Centre GeorgesPompidou, Paris (1994), and the Haags Gemeentemuseum (1995). He has executed over one hundred wall drawings in the United States, France, Italy, Canada, Sweden, Japan, Germany, Austria, and Spain. His writings and book projects have been published widely, and he has completedmany public commissions in places such as New York, Chicago, England, and Belgium. LeWitt is a significant collector of contemporary art, with portions of his collections having been exhibited at the Vhdsworth Atheneum, Hartford; Williams College Museum of Art, Massachusetts; and the Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York. He lives and works in Chester, Connecticut, and Spoleto, Italy.
You can read more about the artists in the show in the Catalog below.
"Collector, public health official, and arts patron Werner Kramarsky—who was a trustee of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Andy Warhol Foundation in Pittsburgh, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Morgan Library, and the Drawing Center in New York—has died at the age of ninety-three.
Werner “Wynn” Kramarsky was born in Amsterdam in 1926; his father was a banker and an art collector whose estate included Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet, 1890. The family emigrated to the United States in 1939. Over the course of sixty years, Kramarsky and his wife Sarah-Ann amassed one of the largest private collections of works on paper, with more than four thousand Minimalist and Conceptual works. They have donated more than two thousand works to institutions including MoMA, the Harvard Art Museums in Massachusetts, the Yale University Art Gallery in Connecticut, the Seattle Art Museum, the Menil Collection in Houston, and the Portland Art Museum in Oregon.
From 1991 to 2006, the couple ran a noncommercial art space, Fifth Floor Foundation, in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, where they showcased the works of young artists alongside that of Mel Bochner, Eva Hesse, Sol LeWitt, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Barnett Newman, and Richard Serra, among others.
'I collect because I am interested in certain things happening: certain things on paper happening, certain things in an artist’s relationship with his or her medium,' Kramarsky told the poet William Corbett in an interview with the Brooklyn Rail. 'I learned mostly from artists. . . . Artists see differently, thank God.'"
Biographical excerpt from ArtForum International.
Top image: Wynn Kramarsky. Photo: Peter Muscato Drawings in Background: David Jeffery, Ann Ledy, Joseph Zito, David Lasry, Andrew Topolski