A Legacy For Learning: Gifts To Stanford From Mona And Nathan Oliveira

April 18–July 29, 2001
Contact: Public Relations Manager, 650-725-4657; or Betsy Fryberger, Curator of Prints and Drawings, 650-725-0463

STANFORD, CA March 2001—A Legacy for Learning: Gifts to Stanford from Mona and Nathan Oliveira includes a selection of forty-five works from the many generous and thoughtful contributions that the Oliveiras have made to Stanford over the past thirty years. As Professor of Art at Stanford from 1964 until his retirement in the early 1990s, the distinguished and internationally recognized artist, Nathan Oliveira, taught an impressive range of classes from printmaking and monotype to drawing and painting.

As the Oliveiras look back over their life and friendships, shared histories are important. Such bonds are acknowledged in the gifts the Oliveiras have made to the Cantor Arts Center: paintings, drawings, and prints by such contemporaries and friends as William Theophilus Brown, Richard Diebenkorn, Frank Lobdell, Manuel Neri, Wayne Thiebaud, and Paul Wonner. The Oliveiras also were attracted to German Expressionist art of the early 20th century, as can be seen in works on exhibition by Max Beckmann, Lovis Corinth, Gustav Klimt, and Oskar Kokoschka.

Oliveira believes that traditional printmaking—that is, printing in black in a single run of the press—is superior to much of today's complex pyrotechnics. In describing his preference for black, he refers to the unparalleled achievements of Rembrandt and Goya, as well as to the more recent lithographs of Picasso.

Among the prints the Oliveiras have donated to Stanford are a number of lithographs made at Tamarind Lithography Workshop. In 1963, soon after June Wayne established the Workshop in Los Angeles, she invited Oliveira to accept an artist-fellowship to work there. He was introduced to the new and direct experience of collaborative lithography in which the printer played a substantive role. Oliveira describes his work as dedicated to the continuing exploration of humanity and a lifelong involvement with the human figure. His figures are enigmatic, not easily identifiable by sex or dress, their faces mask-like, as in his lithograph titled Carrière in honor of the French printmaker, whose prints Oliveira admired and has donated.

In the suite To Edgar Allan Poe, published in 1971, Oliveira probed the limits of black ink on white paper. A few years later, he played a pioneering role in the rebirth of the monotype and has produced many works in that medium for which he is justly famous. For his first major series of monotypes, Oliviera took as a point of departure a plate of the great Spanish printmaker Francisco Goya's aquatint series La Tauromaquia, in which the bull escaped into the audience and gored a spectator. At Stanford's print studio in the Department of Art and Art History, Oliveira introduced a number of artists—including Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud—to monotype.

Today Oliveira continues his activity as a graphic artist, recently collaborating with Kathan Brown at Crown Point Press. As long-time residents of the community, Nathan and Mona maintain their close association with the Cantor Center. They continue to add gifts—which now approach 100 in number—to the collection, in the hope that present and future students, faculty, and other visitors will benefit from the study and pleasure of looking at these instructive and masterful works.

The exhibition is made possible by gifts from the Cowles Charitable Trust and an anonymous donor.