Printmaking is a distinctive artistic practice that draws from a range of technical traditions. For many artists, this hybrid aspect — combined with the multiplicity, seriality and mass communication inherent in printmaking — lends itself to unfettered experimentation.
Beginning Friday, Feb. 2, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis will present three new exhibitions that together explore the modern and contemporary evolution of printed and editioned artworks.
Spanning the mid-1940s through the 1970s, “Postwar Prints and Multiples: Investigating the Collection” features work by leading figures associated with European and American abstraction, Pop and Op art, and Conceptual art. Intended to showcase the depth of the museum’s permanent holdings, the exhibition surveys a wide range of visual strategies: from semi-figurative works by Jean Dubuffet, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso; to gestural and geometric abstractions by Helen Frankenthaler, Philip Guston, Yaacov Agam and Ellsworth Kelly; to Pop compositions by Marisol, Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol.
The exhibition also showcases the complete S.M.S. periodical, a six-part “art collection in a box,” which the American painter and art dealer William Copley published by subscription in 1968. Pushing the magazine format to its limits, the project features small-scale prints and multiples by: Dada and Surrealist luminaries such as Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Meret Oppenheim; Pop artists Richard Hamilton and Roy Lichtenstein; composers Terry Riley and La Monte Young; and up-and-coming Conceptual and post-studio artists such as Joseph Kosuth and Bruce Nauman, among many others.
The Teaching Gallery exhibition “The New York Collection for Stockholm Portfolio” further highlights this rich moment in the history of postwar American art. Published in 1973 by the New York–based group Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), this print portfolio brings together lithographs and screen prints by 30 internationally known artists whose work largely defined the New York art scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Contributors included Lee Bontecou, Robert Breer, Dan Flavin, Hans Haacke, Louise Nevelson, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Serra and Cy Twombly, Kelly and Oldenburg, among others. Displayed in its entirety, the portfolio exists as an extraordinary object and a prescient time capsule of American art embodied in print.
“Island Press: Recent Prints” surveys the last decade of projects from Island Press, the collaborative printmaking workshop housed within Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Known for its innovative and collaborative approach, Island Press works with students, faculty and visiting artists to expand printmaking’s conceptual and material terrain — as well as the artists’ specific practices — through new techniques and processes.
Radcliffe Bailey’s sepia-toned “Tricky 3” (2011) layers pigment printing, collagraph, collage and glitter to investigate themes of race, ancestry and personal history. Nina Katchadourian’s slyly humorous “Window Seat Suprematism” (2014) filters the Russian avant-garde through photographs of airplane wings taken during commercial flights. Trenton Doyle Hancock’s 16-print portfolio “548 First Street NE” (2013) deploys silkscreen, photogravure, lithography and etching to explore childhood memories of his grandmother’s home in Paris, Texas.
Organizers and support
“Postwar Prints and Multiples: Investigating the Collection” and “Island Press: Recent Prints” are both curated by Meredith Malone, associate curator, in the museum’s Ebsworth Gallery. In the Teaching Gallery is “The New York Collection for Stockholm Portfolio,” curated by Lisa Bulawsky, professor of art and director of Island Press, and Tom Reed, senior lecturer and master printer of Island Press, both in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.
Exhibition support is provided by the William T. Kemper Foundation and members of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
All three exhibitions open at the Kemper Art Museum with a free public reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2. “Island Press: Recent Prints” and “Postwar Prints and Multiples: Investigating the Collection” remain on view through April 16. “The New York Collection for Stockholm Portfolio” remains on view through May 21.
Related events include: a conversation with Malone, Bulawsky and Reed Feb. 15; gallery talks March 8 and April 4; and a curator dialogue featuring Malone and Gretchen L. Wagner, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Saint Louis Art Museum, March 19.
The museum is located on Washington University’s Danforth Campus, near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards. Regular hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except Tuesdays and University holidays. For more information, call 314-935-4523; visit kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu; or follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.