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The Eclectic Eye: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation

July 30 - October 2, 2005

 

The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University is pleased to present The Eclectic Eye: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, on view from July 30 to October 2, 2005. Drawn from the collection begun by Frederick Weisman and continued by Billie Milam Weisman, this exhibition of over 40 works offers an overview of the major artists and art movements over the last four decades. As a special feature of this exhibition, one gallery will be devoted to Ed Ruscha to celebrate his recent exhibition representing the United States in the 2005 Venice Biennale. This exhibition also marks the publication of a book by the same title, featuring over 85 highlights of contemporary art from the Weisman Art Foundation.

 

THE ECLECTIC EYE-POP AND AFTER

Frederick Weisman believed that art should be integrated into everyday life. He collected art that was visually stimulating and intellectually challenging. He was particularly fond of Pop Art, with its bold imagery and witty commentary on our contemporary culture. This exhibition features a number of vintage examples of the movement's heyday in the 1960s, including an entire set of Andy Warhol's 10 Marilyn Monroe silk screens, as well as works by James Rosenquist and Christo. The current exhibition demonstrates the wide range of Weisman's interests, which covered the major movements of postwar art and includes examples of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Post-Painterly Abstraction, and Photo-realism, as well as many more recent developments.

 

FOCUS ON RUSCHA

A highlight of this exhibition is one gallery devoted to the art of Los Angeles Pop artist Ed Ruscha. This special "exhibition within an exhibition" was organized to commemorate Ruscha's participation in the 2005 Venice Biennale in Italy. He was chosen as the sole artist to represent the United States-the first time a California artist was so honored. On view are a dozen major works, including four of Ruscha's seminal panoramic landscape paintings of the early 1980s. (right: Ed Ruscha, Please..., 1985, oil on canvas, 59-1/4 x 149-5/8 inches. Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Los Angeles)

Ruscha's panoramic landscapes, most measuring up to 13 feet long, offer a contemplative Pop perspective on the open space of the American West as well as on the wide-screen format of American cinema. The exhibition also includes other quintessential Ruscha word-image paintings, such as The End (1983), Atmospheric Trash (1985), and Malibu Sliding Glass Doors (1976). Frederick Weisman was an important patron and friend of the artist. In the mid-1980s, Weisman commissioned Ruscha to paint the exterior of his corporate jet and artist Joe Goode to paint the interior. This work, no longer extant, is documented in a video and two small-scale models on view.

 

COLLECTORS AND PATRONS

Starting in the 1950s, Frederick and Marcia Simon Weisman gathered a remarkable collection of masterpieces of modern and contemporary American and European art. They demonstrated exemplary daring by acquiring examples of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art long before these movements earned widespread recognition. During Frederick Weisman's lifetime, the collection was acclaimed as one of the most important private collections of modern art in the United States. Now under the direction of Billie Milam Weisman, the Foundation has continued to collect work by new and young artists, fulfilling Weisman's desire to leave a living legacy to the public. (left: Frederick R. Weisman, photo by Beau Bradford)

Not only collectors, the Weismans were extremely influential in the development of Los Angeles as a significant art center. Frederick Weisman, during his time as a trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) from 1985-1994, pressed for collecting more contemporary art. Always eager to share his enthusiasm with the public, he would frequently purchase pieces to donate to museums across the map.

Frederick Weisman believed art should be shared with the public. In the mid-1980s, he bought a Spanish colonial revival residence in Holmby Hills, filled it with art, and opened the estate to the public, which is maintained by the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation. Visitors can tour the collection (by appointment) and experience what it would have been like to be surrounded by magnificent art during the last decades of the 20th century.

 

ABOUT THE FREDERICK R. WEISMAN ART FOUNDATION

The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation is dedicated to continuing the legacy and vision of Frederick R. Weisman, an extraordinary entrepreneur, philanthropist, and art collector. He held an uncompromising belief in the cultural value of art and understood the importance of both the individual artist and creative process. In carrying out Mr. Weisman's intentions, the Foundation seeks to preserve, collect, and make publicly accessible his collection of modern and contemporary art as a means to strengthen and to contribute to the greater artistic and intellectual life of our time.

In 1982, Frederick R. Weisman purchased the Los Angeles estate to serve as a showcase the collection of 20th-century art. He and his wife Billie Milam Weisman, an art conservator and curator, worked together to create a unique environment located within the Mediterranean-style villa. The villa was designed by Kaufmann in the late 1920s and exhibits the craftsmanship characteristic of that period, including hand-painted ceilings, stucco details, and wood-inlaid floors. In 1991, the Weismans added a contemporary annex, or art pavilion, designed by Franklin Israel, to accommodate larger-scale works. Today the Foundation consists of the estate, annex, and surrounding gardens made accessible to the public by appointment only on guided tours.

More than 500 works of art are on displayed at the Foundation. The collection includes works by European Modernists including Cézanne, Picasso, and Kandinsky. Surrealist works by Ernst, Miro, and Magritte. The holdings in postwar art include works by Giacometti, Noguchi, Calder, Rauschenberg, and Johns. Abstract Expressionist paintings by de Kooning, Francis, Still, and Rothko. Color-Field paintings by Frankenthaler, Louis, and Noland. Pop Art by Warhol, Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, and Rosenquist. Contemporary California works by Ruscha and Goode, and Super Realist sculptures by Hanson and de Andrea.

These holdings are part of a larger collection that Mr. Weisman established as the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation in 1982. Currently under the direction of Billie Milam Weisman, the Foundation continues to make the collection available through loans to museums worldwide, docent tours at the Los Angeles estate, display in public-art venues, and the funding of several art museums, including Pepperdine University in Malibu, New Orleans Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Art, and the Frederick R. Weisman Museum at the University of Minnesota, designed by Frank O. Gehry.

The Eclectic Eye was organized by the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, and curated by Billie Milam Weisman, Director and President of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, and President of the Frederick R. Weisman Philanthropic Foundation. She was born in Minnesota, as was her late husband, Frederick R. Weisman, and raised in Los Angeles. For nine years during Mr. Weisman's lifetime, Billie Milam Weisman worked closely together with her husband to acquire works for the Frederick R. Weisman collections, as well as to foster and expand the activities of the Frederick R. Weisman Foundations. Today, she continues to carry on the legacy of her husband's art and philanthropic endeavors.

Billie Milam Weisman received her Masters of Arts degree in Art History with honors at the University of California Los Angeles, followed by a post graduate internship in art conservation at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. For 13 years, Billie Milam worked as a fine arts conservator, art historian and administrator. Her positions have included President of Billie Milam Art Conservator, Inc., Head of Sculpture Conservation and Senior Art Conservator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as Conservator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Getty Museum. She has traveled internationally with exhibitions and lectured in conjunction with exhibitions and professional meetings.

 

CATALOG

This exhibition marks the publication of The Eclectic Eye: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, a 190-page color catalog featuring 85 artists from the collection. It includes works by Claes Oldenburg, David Hockney, Willem de Kooning, Donald Judd, Frank Stella, and Jasper Johns, in addition to numerous other modern and contemporary artists. The exhibition complements the book by providing a physical context in which to enjoy a selection from the printed images.

 

Editor's note: RL wishes to express appreciation to Julianne Nelson, Curatorial Associate, Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation for information concerning the Foundation.

RL readers may also enjoy these earlier articles and essays:

and this video

The Hirshhorn Museum Library, founded in 1969, is administered by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL). It is a research collection devoted to modern and contemporary painting, sculpture, drawings, prints, photography, video, and emerging art forms. the Library's web page contains a video clip from an Ed Ruscha lecture filmed June 29, 2000.

 

rev. 8/17/05

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