The Hammer’s Grunwald Center & LACMA jointly acquire Edition Jacob Samuel Archive

Los Angeles – UCLA’s Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) are pleased to announce the joint acquisition of the complete archive of prints by Los Angeles publisher Edition Jacob Samuel. The two museums have been collaborating for over two years to realize the acquisition, which was just recently finalized. Since 1988, Jacob Samuel has published 43 portfolios, and his archive comprises more than 800 prints made by a wide range of over 50 international artists, including Marina Abramovic, John Baldessari, Chris Burden, Mona Hatoum, Rebecca Horn, Anish Kapoor, Barry McGee, Ed Moses, Matthew Monahan, Wangechi Mutu, Gabriel Orozco, Nancy Rubins, Ed Ruscha, Robert Therrien, James Welling, Christopher Wool, and Andrea Zittel, among many others.

Although intaglio printmaking has a long and celebrated history in Europe, it has only recently established itself on the West Coast, and Samuel was instrumental in its foundation in Los Angeles. Edition Jacob Samuel, along with Crown Point Press in San Francisco and Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles, have been pivotal in the development of a Modern and Contemporary tradition of etching in the United States. However, unlike the other two publishers, Samuel’s work has not been the focus of a major exhibition until now.

This summer the Hammer will host Outside the Box: Edition Jacob Samuel, 1988 2010 a major exhibition highlighting the remarkable depth and diversity of work included in the archive, and rediscovering an important yet overlooked facet of Los Angeles’ art history.

Outside the Box: Edition Jacob Samuel, 1988-2010
Outside the Box is arranged chronologically and showcases more than 550 works on paper by 42 artists. The exhibition is curated by Cynthia Burlingham, director of the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts and deputy director of collections at the Hammer Museum, with Britt Salvesen, curator and head of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department and the Department of Prints and Drawings, and Leslie Jones, associate curator of prints and drawings at LACMA. The show includes all of the archive’s published portfolios, as well as related proofs and other preparatory works, and will feature the majority of the work of the archive.

Although the exhibition is international in scope, there is a distinctive Los Angeles focus to Samuel’s publications. “I’m doing my best to keep the old Ocean Park artist studio vibe alive,” explains Jacob Samuel. “…For me it’s a question of beach culture filtering in to what I do, because so much of my history is beach culture.” Samuel has always been interested in the historical aspect of printmaking and admires the work of old and modern master artists/printmakers, counting Rembrandt, Durer, Goya and Picasso among his most significant influences. However it is his approachable style and Santa Monica casualness that creates an atmosphere of freedom and experimentation for the artists he works with.

“Jacob’s archive is an impressive achievement and he is certainly among the unsung heroes of Los Angeles’ dynamic creative community. It has been a great pleasure to collaborate with LACMA on this exhibition and to jointly acquire the archive with them. We are all delighted that the archive is staying here in LA. The range of artists from all over the world represented in Outside the Box is impressive and Jacob will certainly take his well-deserved place in the history of art in this city,” remarks Hammer Director Ann Philbin.

Jacob Samuel established himself in the 1970s and 1980s as one of the few intaglio printmakers in Los Angeles. Etching was not readily employed by LA artists and established print studios generally specialized in lithography. From the Italian intagliare, which means “to carve or cut into,” intaglio commonly refers to the process by which an artist prepares a plate—traditionally copper,—and incises or burnishes it with one of a variety of tools, after which the plate goes through a press which impresses the image onto paper. This is the foundation for etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint, soft ground, lift ground, and mezzotint. Some of Samuel’s more ambitious projects involve several techniques for the same image: a Christina Iglesias series published in 2008 utilize etching, aquatint, drypoint, and digital printing. Working closely with artists and allowing them to dictate the direction of the project and often bring new, unexpected approaches and techniques to the printmaking process which has meant that Samuel continually experiments with and develops his printing techniques and skills in order to be responsive to their needs.

Samuel has worked with numerous artists whose primary medium is seemingly far removed from the printmaking process. Sculptors such as Anish Kapoor and Nancy Rubins worked with Samuel, as have artists whose practice is performance based, such as Marina Abramovic and Meredith Monk. Samuel acts as a technical engineer to help them realize their visions and expand their practice. The range of artists illustrates Samuel’s ability to work both internationally and across generations. Artists such as Gabriel Orozco, Robert Therrien, and John Baldessari represent an array of well-established international artists, while Samuel’s work with younger artists such as Barry McGee, Wangechi Mutu, Matthew Monahan, and Andrea Zittel represent a new generation of artists whose work lends itself naturally to printmaking and signals a renewed interest in the medium. Nearly half of the artists in the archive have lived in LA. Samuel takes pride in his Santa Monica roots and the influence the city has had on his work.

“Samuel’s technical skill and innovative spirit allows the artists he works with to expand on their own creative potential,” says LACMA director Michael Govan. “‘No’ and ‘impossible’ are not part of his printmaking vocabulary, offering artists the opportunity to make great prints that are also great works of art. LACMA is very pleased to jointly acquire and present with the Hammer this vital facet of contemporary printmaking in Los Angeles.”

Edition Jacob Samuel Archive
The Edition Jacob Samuel Archive, acquired in 2010 by UCLA’s Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum and LACMA, comprises more than 800 works, including one copy of all Edition Jacob Samuel portfolios, selected Litho Shop and Lapis publications, as well as working proofs and trial proofs from a number of projects. The number of prints in each portfolio ranges from 6 to 36, with over 550 individual prints included in the 43 portfolios. All objects in the archive will be jointly owned and housed at both museums. The two institutions have also agreed to acquire additional publications through 2013. Edition Jacob Samuel publications have been acquired by public and private collections around the world, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, to the KunstHaus in Zurich and the Tate Gallery, London.

Hammer curator Cynthia Burlingham met Jacob Samuel over ten years ago and soon after began acquiring his publications for the Hammer’s Grunwald Center. During those initial exchanges Burlingham also approached Samuel about the possibility of acquiring his entire archive. Several months later, Leslie Jones, who had recently been appointed to her curatorial position at LACMA, visited Samuel’s workshop and was impressed by the quality of the etchings, as well as Samuel’s unique approach. Understanding the great possibilities of a cross-institutional collaboration, the Hammer and LACMA began working together to insure that Edition Jacob Samuel, so important to the history of art in Los Angeles, stayed in the city that has influenced so much of the work in the Archive.

Edition Jacob Samuel’s publications are conceived primarily in the series format, and though the individual prints are usually relatively small, a single portfolio can contain dozens of prints. Samuel acts as both master printer and publisher, and chooses the artists he publishes, usually by following an artist’s work over a period of several years before initiating a project. Once he has chosen the artist, the artist sets the creative goals for each project. While most print publishers have large workshops with several master printers, Samuel prefers a direct one-on-one relationship with each artist. Artists are invited to either create prints in his Santa Monica studio or he travels around the world to work with them in their own studios. Jannis Kounellis brought him to Tuscany and Rome; Rebecca Horn worked with him in her studio in Paris; in Buenos Aires, Samuel collaborated with Guillermo Kuitca. This practice allows the artist to create the work in his or her own environment, often using non-traditional materials that may be available only in the artist’s studio. When the artist chooses to work at Samuel’s shop, the Santa Monica studio is treated as if it is the artist’s own space for the duration of the project.

Artists in the Archive and Exhibition
Marina Abramovic, Peter Alexander, John Baldessari, Miroslaw Balka, Chris Burden, Vija Celmins, Greg Colson, Joe Goode, Dan Graham, Marvin Harden, Mona Hatoum, Arturo Herrera, Jene Highstein, Charles C. Hill, Rebecca Horn, Cristina Iglesias, Anish Kapoor, Jannis Kounellis, Guillermo Kuitca, Barry Le Va, Rita McBride, Josiah Mcelheny, Barry McGee, Michael McMillen, Matthew Monahan, Meredith Monk, Ed Moses, Matt Mullican, Wangechi Mutu, Gabriel Orozco, Giuseppe Penone, Martin Puryear, Nancy Rubins, Ed Ruscha, Juliao Sarmento, Peter Shelton, Nahum Tevet, Robert Therrien, Juan Usle, James Welling, Christopher Wool, Andrea Zittel

Jacob Samuel
Born in Los Angeles in 1951, Jacob Samuel vividly recalls exhibitions in the 1950s and 1960s at the Ferus Gallery, David Stuart, and LACMA, which he visited regularly throughout high school. In 1968, he saw an H. C. Westermann exhibition at LACMA and was amazed by the level of creativity and craft – that exhibition inspired Samuel to further develop his interest in art. He later graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland with a major in photography and a minor in printmaking. After a two-year apprenticeship with an etching printer at a commercial studio, he began working full-time with intaglio prints on his own.

In the 1970s, Samuel befriended the artist Sam Francis which served to be a long lasting and transformative relationship. Francis had established the Litho Shop in 1970 with the intention of creating an environment where he could experiment freely with printmaking and invited a small group of artists to work at the Shop too. Samuel worked for Francis at the time and was also among a small group of artists Francis invited to use the resources of Litho Shop. In 1980 Samuel was hired by Gemini G.E.L., where he would work with Ellsworth Kelly, James Rosenquist, Vija Celmins, Ron Davis, Michael Heizer, Richard Serra and Saul Steinberg.

Later in the early 1980s, Sam Francis invited Samuel to help him set up an etching studio and in 1984 Francis founded Lapis Press to publish limited editions of poetry, fiction, and essays on art, philosophy, literature, and psychology as well as artists’ books. Jacob Samuel worked with him as his master printer and it was this 14-year partnership that enabled Samuel to collaborate with artists such as Ed Ruscha, Richard Long, Joe Goode, and of course Francis himself.

Following Francis’s death in 1994 Samuel began working independently, as a sort of traveling master printer, and spent a great deal of time on projects with artists in Europe. Finally, in 2002 Samuel opened his own studio in Ocean Park, a surfing and skateboarding neighborhood in Santa Monica. Samuel has spent most of his life working and living in Ocean Park and it seemed only fitting to establish his studio there.