Enfilade

Exhibition | Three Centuries of American Prints

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 4, 2016

From the press release (3 February 2016) for the exhibition:

Three Centuries of American Prints from the National Gallery of Art
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 3 April 3 — 24 July 2016
National Gallery, Prague, 4 October 2016 — 5 January 2017
Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico City, 7 February — 30 April 2017

Curated by Amy Johnston and Judith Brodie

3919-067

John Simon after John Verelst, Sa Ga Yeath Qua Pieth Tow, King of the Maquas, after 1710 (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Paul Mellon Fund)

A new international traveling exhibition will explore major events and movements in American art through some 150 outstanding prints from the Colonial era to the present. Three Centuries of American Prints from the National Gallery of Art is the first major museum survey of American prints in more than 30 years. Timed to coincide with the National Gallery of Art’s 75th anniversary, the exhibition is drawn from the Gallery’s renowned holdings of works on paper, and features more than 100 artists such as Paul Revere, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, George Bellows, John Marin, Jackson Pollock, Louise Nevelson, Romare Bearden, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Chuck Close, Jenny Holzer, and Kara Walker.

Organized chronologically and thematically through nine galleries, Three Centuries of American Prints reveals the breadth and excellence of the Gallery’s collection while showcasing some of the standouts: exquisite, rare impressions of James McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne (1879/1880), captivating prints by Mary Cassatt, a singularly stunning impression of John Marin’s Woolworth Building, No. 1 (1913), and Robert Rauschenberg’s pioneering Booster (1967).

The exhibition is bracketed by John Simon’s Four Indian Kings (1710)—stately portraits of four Native American leaders who traveled to London to meet Queen Anne—and Kara Walker’s no world (2010), which recalls the disastrous impact of European settlement in the New World. Both prints address the subject of transnational contact, a theme that runs through the history of American art.

Paul Revere (American, 1735 - 1818 ), The Boston Massacre, 1770, hand-colored engraving, Rosenwald Collection 1943.3.9042

Paul Revere, The Boston Massacre, 1770, hand-colored engraving (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald Collection)

Three Centuries of American Prints features works intended to provoke action, such as Paul Revere’s call for moral outrage in The Bloody Massacre (1770) and Jenny Holzer’s appeal to “Raise Boys and Girls the Same Way” in her Truisms (1977). Others lean more strongly toward visual concerns, such as Stuart Davis’s striking black-and-white lithograph, Barber Shop Chord (1931), and Richard Diebenkorn’s resplendent Green (1986). This duality between prints designed to exhort or teach and ones more weighted to artistic matters is an undercurrent of both the exhibition and the history of American prints.

Since its opening in 1941, the National Gallery of Art has assiduously collected American prints with the help of many generous donors. The Gallery’s American print collection has grown from nearly 1,900 prints in 1950 to some 22,500 prints in 2015. The collection was transformed in recent years by the acquisition of the Reba and Dave Williams Collection, the personal print archive of Jasper Johns, and some 2,300 American prints from the Corcoran Gallery of Art, along with a gift and pledge of 18th- and early 19th-century prints from Harry W. Havemeyer.

“In the past few decades the American collections at the National Gallery of Art have grown vastly in quality and scale. From 2000 until today—thanks to generous donors and acquisitions from the Corcoran Gallery of Art—the collection of American prints has almost doubled and now numbers some 22,500 works,” said Earl A. Powell III, Director, National Gallery of Art. “We are tremendously grateful to hundreds of donors, foremost among them Lessing J. Rosenwald and Reba and Dave Williams, as well as grateful to Altria Group, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art for their vital support.”

The exhibition is made possible by Altria Group in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art. This is the twelfth exhibition sponsorship by Altria Group at the Gallery. “For more than 50 years, Altria and its companies have supported visual and performing arts. Our partnership with the National Gallery of Art to share Three Centuries of American Prints is an important way that we’re bringing world-class cultural experiences to our communities,” said Bruce Gates, Senior Vice President of External Affairs for Altria Client Services. The international tour of the exhibition is sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Additional support is provided by The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art.

The curators of the exhibition are Amy Johnston, assistant curator of prints and drawings, and Judith Brodie, curator and head of the department of modern prints and drawings, both at the National Gallery of Art. The exhibition catalog is conceived and edited by Judith Brodie, with coauthors Amy Johnston and Michael J. Lewis, the Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor of Art History at Williams College. The Terra Foundation for American Art provided additional funding for the exhibition catalog.

Judith Brodie, Amy Johnston, and Michael J. Lewis, Three Centuries of American Prints (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2016), 306 pages, ISBN: 978-0500239520, $60.

 

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