LACMA acquires 39 major works produced at Gemini G.E.L., including pieces by Lichtenstein and Ruscha

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the L.A. print workshop Gemini G.E.L., one of the country’s foremost publishers of art lithography, both opened about 50 years ago and came of age together in the mid-1960s. A new gift to the museum highlights their entwined histories.   

On Monday LACMA is expected to announce the acquisition of 39 serial prints produced at Gemini by artists Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha and Frank Stella. Thirty one of the gifts come from Gemini, seven are from Lichtenstein’s widow, Dorothy Lichtenstein, and one is from Gemini co-founder Sidney Felsen and his wife, Joni Weyl. Felsen, who turns 92 in September, still co-runs Gemini, which organized the gift.  

“It's extremely touching to be celebrating 50 years of Gemini after just celebrating LACMA's 50th, and to receive a group of extraordinary gifts of prints,” LACMA Director Michael Govan said. “LACMA, appropriately, will forever be able to share a broad and deep collection of Gemini prints, made by some of the very best artists of our time.”

The acquisition comes shortly before “The Serial Impulse at Gemini G.E.L.,” an exhibition celebrating Gemini’s 50th anniversary, opens at LACMA in September. Several of the new acquisitions will be on view in the exhibit, which was organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and showed there through early February. The L.A. exhibition includes more than 127 prints from 16 series.

Among the gifts that will be shown in “Serial Impulse” are Lichtenstein’s “Expressionist Woodcuts,” seven works in a series from 1980; Ruscha’s “Exploding Cheese,” “Cheese Oval” and “Cheese Crescent” from the 1976 series “Various Cheeses”; Rauschenberg’s “Test Stone #5” from the 1967 series “Booster and 7 Studies”; and Oldenburg’s “Notes,” 12 works in a series from 1968.

Felsen said that giving the prints to LACMA was an “easy decision.”

“Over the past 50 years, LACMA and Gemini have shared major milestones,” he said. “When LACMA decided to present ‘The Serial Impulse at Gemini G.E.L.,’ they elected to use the strength of their vast collection of Gemini publications and substitute different series [from what showed at the National Gallery of Art] by certain artists: Josef Albers, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha and Richard Serra. In instances where LACMA only owned part of a certain series (as with John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha), Gemini was happy to contribute the works that were needed to complete them.”

“The Serial Impulse at Gemini G.E.L.” opens at LACMA on Sept. 11.

deborah.vankin@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter: @DebVankin


UPDATES:

10:50 a.m. July 12: This article was updated with more specifics about the sources of the LACMA gifts.

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