St. Louis Art Museum shows expanded collection of postwar American prints

Tony Fitzpatrick, American, born 1958. ‘C,’ 2012; etching; plate 7 by 5 in, sheet: 11 by 9in. Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 564:2020; © Tony Fitzpatrick

Tony Fitzpatrick, American, born 1958. ‘C,’ 2012; etching; plate 7 by 5in, sheet: 11 by 9in. Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, the Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 564:2020; © Tony Fitzpatrick

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The Saint Louis Art Museum is showing Catching the Moment: Contemporary Art from the Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons Collection until September 11. The exhibition celebrates the 2020 acquisition of more than 800 works of art that has elevated the museum’s holdings of postwar American prints.

Catching the Moment presents more than 190 objects from this collection — a rich variety of prints, drawings, collages, artists’ books, photographs, a painting and editioned three-dimensional objects by a diverse group of 39 artists, predominantly active in the United States from the mid-20th century to today. Key works on view include Bruce Conner’s BOMBHEAD, Helen Frankenthaler’s Savage Breeze, Wayne Thiebaud’s Candy Apples, Kara Walker’s Keys to the Coop and H. C. Westermann’s The Connecticut Ballroom.

Kara Walker, American, born 1969; ‘The Keys to the Coop,’ 1997; linocut; 46 ¼ by 60 ½in. Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 847:2020; © Kara Walker

Kara Walker, American, born 1969; ‘The Keys to the Coop,’ 1997; linocut; 46 ¼ by 60 ½in. Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, the Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 847:2020; © Kara Walker

Ted L. Simmons is a former St. Louis Cardinals catcher and switch hitter who was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020. Maryanne Ellison Simmons is an artist and a printer-publisher who established her own fine-art printing press, Wildwood Press, in St. Louis in 1996. The acquisition is a partial gift and partial purchase: the married couple donated 50 percent of the value of the entire collection and the museum purchased the remaining stake.

Jane Hammond, American, born 1950, ‘My Heavens,’ 2004; lithograph with silver mylar and chine colle; sheet; 30 3/8 by 51 1/4in, framed; 36 3/8 by 57 3/8in. Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 618:2020; © Jane Hammond

Jane Hammond, American, born 1950, ‘My Heavens,’ 2004; lithograph with silver mylar and chine colle; sheet; 30 3/8 by 51 1/4in, framed; 36 3/8 by 57 3/8in. Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, the Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 618:2020; © Jane Hammond

As collectors, the Simmonses focused on art and artists of their own time, and the couple was particularly drawn to works that addressed social issues and historical moments that were important to them, including the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and the AIDS crisis. Catching the Moment explores artists’ responses to these and other issues while helping visitors understand the many connections between works from artists across the Simmons collection.

Tom Huck, American, born 1971; ‘Hitch,’ from the series ‘Bridal Sweet,’ 2001-12; etching; plate: 11 7/8 by 9in., sheet: 17 by 14in. Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 638:2020.2; © Tom Huck

Tom Huck, American, born 1971; ‘Hitch,’ from the series ‘Bridal Sweet,’ 2001-12; etching; plate: 11 7/8 by 9in., sheet: 17 by 14in. Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, the Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 638:2020.2; © Tom Huck

The Simmonses collected some artists in depth, and Catching the Moment reflects this with expanded presentations of work by artists such as Kiki Smith, whose work explores the body and self as well as environmental concerns; Enrique Chagoya, who deploys a global array of visual culture in his critique of colonialism and injustice; and Tom Huck, a master of rural Missouri scoundrel epics in woodcut form.

Enrique Chagoya, American (born Mexico), born 1953; ‘Detention at the Border of Language,’ 2019; lithograph; 22 1/16 by 30in. Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 465:2020; © Enrique Chagoya

Enrique Chagoya, American (born Mexico), born 1953; ‘Detention at the Border of Language,’ 2019; lithograph; 22 1/16 by 30in. Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons; and funds given by the Marian Cronheim Trust for Prints and Drawings, Museum Purchase, Friends Fund, the Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, and the Eliza McMillan Purchase Fund 465:2020; © Enrique Chagoya

Peter Hujar, Paul Thek and David Wojnarowicz were friends and peers of Smith, and they worked within the community of artists that coalesced before and during the AIDS crisis. H. C. Westermann’s nightmarish evocations of the Pacific chapter of World War II appear alongside Bruce Nauman’s often biting socio-political commentary and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s forceful foregrounding of Native American history. The exhibition also highlights the appropriation of historical and contemporary visual material found in the work of Jane Hammond, Roger Shimomura and Tony Fitzpatrick.

Visit the website for the Saint Louis Art Museum and see its dedicated page for Catching the Moment: Contemporary Art from the Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons Collection.