JCSM is pleased to present Tamarind Touchstones: Fabulous at Fifty, a survey of lithographs produced at Tamarind in celebration of its half-century milestone. Sixty-one prints by artists such as Josef Albers, Willie Cole, Roy De Forest, Richard Diebenkorn, and Kiki Smith underscore the breadth of the lithographic medium and the vitality of its collaborative practice at its first location, the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles, and its current home in Albuquerque, now known as the Tamarind Institute.
The spirit that shapes this exhibition comes from the Tamarind logo, the alchemist’s symbol for stone. The alchemist’s magic at Tamarind is the joining of the artist’s vision and a master printer’s sensibility, together with special materials, from which emerge transcendent works of art that will inform the mind and delight the eye. This exhibition celebrates fifty years of artistic excellence at Tamarind Institute. It is made up of a selection of lithographs from the Tamarind archive held at the University of New Mexico Art Museum and it encompasses all of the major aesthetic movements in art during Tamarind’s history. This is an opportunity to show the collaborative works of many of the most significant American artists and printers of the past half-century.
From its beginning, Tamarind distinguished itself by an adherence to lithographic printing at the highest possible technical level, which set a new standard of printing excellence for fine artworks on paper. The significance of the close collaboration between the artist and a master printer cannot be overstated and lies at the center of Tamarind’s mission and its success. Tamarind’s achievements have been so pronounced that today lithography has become a regular part of many artists’ practice. Think for a moment how impoverished the art of the past fifty years would be without the prints of Ed Ruscha, Jim Dine, Jack Tworkov, Louise Nevelson, and the many other great artists who have produced some of this country’s best lithographs.
It is often surprising and illuminating what happens when things that were never intended to be placed next to each other are. Frequently, juxtaposition—this encounter within a private space—triggers alchemy. Two images randomly or intentionally placed next to each other can collide with such unexpected force that a third image is formed in the mind’s eye of the viewer. And, although every work of art has its own integrity and can be complete separate from all else, images are capable of subtle change with each new role they take on. In this way, the thoughtful placement of pictures can create infinite possibilities of meaning each time they are shown. Like the mythical figure Proteus, pictures can change shape depending on the context. This idea has been central in sequencing the images for the exhibit, so that they would have the best chance of shaping a personal experience for each viewer.
Tamarind Touchstones: Fabulous at Fifty, Celebrating Excellence in Fine Art Lithographywas curated by John Mulvany and organized by The University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, New Mexico. This exhibition was funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition and is available for sale in the Museum Shop.