Art is the greatest teacher.
—Emily Fisher Landau
Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol—these stellar American artists are now part of the American canon of contemporary art history. Yet when Emily Fisher Landau collected their art (and works by numerous other now-prominent artists), they were radically adventurous and far from famous. Landau became one of the preeminent collectors of postwar art in the United States.
This exhibition is in essence a survey of American art since the 1960s: it is drawn from Landau’s historic promised gift to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. As did the SJMA’s early “Whitney collaborations” –the beloved landmark surveys of 20th-century art at SJMA between 1994 and 2000—Legacy gives audiences access to extraordinary works by a pantheon of innovative and pivotal artists. It offers a historical overview of the art of our times from the preeminent museum of American Art: it is unlike anything else currently available to Bay Area audiences. Legacy proudly launches SJMA’s 45th-anniversary celebration, with roots in the past and a bold eye on the future!
Art can teach us about the world. It can teach us how to interpret and process societal concerns; it can offer alternative ways of thinking; and it can teach us about ourselves. Many of the artworks in Legacy heralded seismic changes, not just in American society, but in the way the artist’s role has evolved over the decades. This exhibition offers insights into the visual thinking and political consciousness of American artists from the 1960s through 2002, with a particularly close look at the 1970s and 1980s.
Some seventy works by thirty-eight artists range from painterly abstraction to high realism to social commentary. Legacy includes an equally broad variety of media, e.g. ink on paper, collage, screen printing, painting, and sculpture. It encompasses a punchlist of postwar art movements: abstract expressionism, pop art, minimalism, conceptualism, feminist art, and postmodernism. Also on view are works by Carl Andre, John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Peter Cain, Carroll Dunham, William Eggleston, Eric Fischl, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Rodney Graham, Keith Haring, Peter Hujar, Neil Jenney, Joseph Kosuth, Annette Lemieux, Sherrie Levine, Glenn Ligon, Robert Longo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Agnes Martin, John McLaughlin, Martin Puryear, James Rosenquist, Susan Rothenberg, Allen Ruppersberg, Lorna Simpson, Kiki Smith, Mark Tansey, Al Taylor, Cy Twombly, and David Wojnarowicz.
This exhibition was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The San Jose presentation has been made possible by the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, Bank of America, the Myra Reinhard Family Foundation, Farrington Historical Foundation, University Art, Doris and Alan Burgess, and Carol and Gerry Parker.