Cleveland (February 20, 2020) — The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) today announced the gift of 59 important contact sheets and three related individual prints from the collection of Clevelanders Mark Schwartz + Bettina Katz. The group of 62 works includes contact sheets from famous portrait sittings by Irving Penn, a selection of sheets featuring Marilyn Monroe and a work by Schwartz himself. Having access to a photographer’s contact sheets is akin to viewing a painter’s preparatory studies: both reveal the artist’s thoughts and working processes and illustrate integral steps in the creation of his or her finished works. This generous donation will allow the CMA to offer visitors a unique point of access into an important, now bygone period in the history of photography—that of the 20th century.
Thirty-seven of these works are on view now in the museum’s special exhibition PROOF: Photography in the Era of the Contact Sheet, which runs through April 12, 2020. When combined with future promised gifts from the same collection, this donation will give the Cleveland Museum of Art one of the broadest, most comprehensive collections of contact sheets in any art museum.
“We are tremendously grateful to have received this generous gift of works from Mark and Tina’s collection,” said William Griswold, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “These works greatly enhance the museum’s collection of photography and will give our visitors a rare glimpse of the working process of several different photographers.”
Master portraitist Irving Penn is represented in depth with 48 contact sheets and one individual print, Woody Allen as Charlie Chaplin. Film star Marilyn Monroe is the subject of one individual print and 11 contact sheets by five artists, including celebrated portraitist Philippe Halsman, one unidentified artist and three photographers new to the museum’s collection: Milton Greene, Earl Leaf and Allan Grant. The five Halsman contact sheets of Monroe establish the context for his chosen image, represented in the gift by a print of an iconic depiction of the actress, an image that helped make her a star.
Mark Schwartz, a groundbreaking, resourceful collector of contact sheets, had a long-standing interest in their serial nature and grid format. Included in the gift is a work of art that Schwartz created using the form of a contact sheet, Muybridge in Motion 2 (1979). It is an homage both to 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge, whose motion studies pioneered that format, and to the painters, sculptors and conceptual artists who explored serial imagery in the 1960s and 1970s.
About Mark Schwartz
Mark Schwartz held a Master of Fine Arts in photography and was an avid, perceptive collector. He was the founding principal and owner of Nesnadny + Schwartz, an innovative, internationally acclaimed graphic design firm that was the first to incorporate fine art into its groundbreaking work.
Schwartz was a visionary. Beginning in the early 2000s, his deep appreciation for the fine arts and the artistic process eventually led him to expand his already extensive collection of photography to include contact sheets. The works that he and Katz assembled compose a unique record of artistic accomplishment and include countless unfamiliar variants of celebrated images by famous makers that serve as evidence of the creative process.
Schwartz was a philanthropist, most notably giving his time and resources in support of the arts in Cleveland. He was a trustee of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and he and Katz are the naming donors of the first committed photography gallery at the museum.
A native of Massachusetts, Schwartz grew up in New Jersey and studied political science at Rutgers University before pursuing the fine arts and photography at Princeton University and Ohio University.
About PROOF: Photography in the Era of the Contact Sheet
Contact proofs were vital to the practice of photography until digital technology made them obsolete. Photographers who used roll film first saw positive images on the contact sheet, chose which frames to enlarge and kept the sheet as a record. PROOF: Photography in the Era of the Contact Sheet features approximately 180 works from the collection of Mark Schwartz + Bettina Katz that highlight the aims and methods of a broad range of photographers from the second half of the 20th century. The free exhibition presents key works by leading figures, including Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Harry Benson, Harry Callahan, Robert Frank, Philippe Halsman, Irving Penn and Albert Watson, as well as Schwartz’s friends Arnold Newman, Larry Fink and Emmet Gowin. Rare photographs of iconic celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, the Beatles and Groucho Marx, are on view.
About the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Photography Collection
Since 1983 the museum has assembled a small, carefully selected collection of fine art photography covering the history of the medium that began in 1839. It represents many of the major movements and inventive practitioners. Strengths of the collection are its early 19th-century images by many pioneering figures, especially French, English and American photographers; pictorial photography with complete sets of The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis and Camera Work; surrealist photography created primarily between the two world wars; and Cleveland-specific subject matter produced by regional and national photographers. The collection also includes extensive examples of post-1970 photography.
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