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"HISTORICALLY SPEAKING"

by Shirle Gottlieb




Robert Rauschenberg, “L.A.
Uncovered #2”, screenprint
on paper, 24 x 12”, 1998.





Graciela Iturbide, “Nuestra
Senora de la Iguanas,”
gelatin silver print, 1979.
(University Art Museum, CSU Long Beach, Long Beach) To celebrate 25 years of distinguished achievement, the University Art Museum (UAM) at Cal State Long Beach has mounted Historically Speaking, an elegantly installed retrospective exhibit that commemorates three significant milestones.

First, Historically Speaking recognizes the significant contributions UAM has made to both scholarly pursuits on the Cal State campus and to the enrichment of the community-at-large. This achievement is demonstrated by a showcase overview of quality exhibits the museum has curated over the past quarter-century. Not only were artists discovered or rediscovered and brought to public attention, prime pieces of their work were purchased to be part of UAM's permanent collection.

The complete list of artists on display here reads like an encyclopedia of modern and contemporary art. For example: There are stunning photographs by Catherine Wagner, Ruth Bernhard, Eileen Cowin, Lorna Simpson, and Graciela Iturbide; provocative drawings by Jim Dine, Roy Lichtenstein, John Altoon, and Susan Rothenberg; innovative collages by Tom Wesselmann and Robert Rauschenberg; cutting-edge prints by Eric Fischl and Wayne Thiebaud; watercolors by David Hockney and Walton Ford; pastels by George Segal and Betty Goodwin--to name only a handful of the artists represented in Historically Speaking.

To accompany this milestone exhibition, a major catalogue has been produced that documents UAM's achievements from 1973 to the present. Fully illustrated with introductory remarks by Constance Glenn (the museum's founding director and still at its helm), it features a major essay by art critic Peter Frank with auxiliary contributions by key members of the museum staff.

Secondly, UAM publicly acknowledges the gift of a major art collection from the Gordon F. Hampton Foundation through the generosity of his children. Rich in second-generation Abstract Expressionists from the New York School of painting, this 85-piece acquisition (which is valued at $3.2 million) becomes an immediate pillar of the museum's permanent collection.

On exhibit in UAM's center gallery (newly named "The Gordon F. Hampton Gallery") are 25 stunning works by such prominent innovators as Al Held, Michael Goldberg, Adolph Gottlieb, Lee Krasner, and Milton Resnick. Full of vibrant color that sings off the walls and resonates throughout the museum, these paintings--on view publicly for the first time--are the rightful centerpiece of Historically Speaking.

Though much of the work is untitled, Resnick named one of his "all-over" abstractions, The Mask of Benjamin Franklin; while Krasner gave her 1961 calligraphic oil on canvas work the intriguing title, What Beast Must I Adore?

Hampton, an enlightened art patron, collector, and philanthropist, was a renowned Los Angeles anti-trust attorney, as well as the founding member and chairman of the Fellows of Contemporary Art.

In accordance with his wishes, UAM will maintain the Gordon F. Hampton Collection in the Los Angeles law firm offices of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton for a significant period. There, it will serve as a satellite exhibit facility for UAM and the university's art outreach program.

Other artists represented in this prestigious collection include William Brice, Richard Diebenkorn, Sam Francis, Nancy Graves, and Claes Oldenberg. Their work is expected to be an important part of future UAM exhibitions.

As for the third milestone, as Historically Speaking commemorates UAM's 25th-anniversary, it also marks the golden anniversary of California State University, Long Beach, which was founded in 1949.