This Exhibition Has Ended

August 8, 2015
December 20, 2015
In the Bartels Gallery

Prints were an early method of communication that had an incalculable effect on human knowledge—as revolutionary as Gutenberg’s invention of movable type. This impact still resonates today at the Johnson Museum, where our print collection is extensively used to teach in all disciplines across the university.

This exhibition presents a selection of prints from the very beginning of the media to the present day, from masterworks by Dürer and Rembrandt to exciting contemporary prints by today’s international artists, including William Kentridge and Kiki Smith.

Throughout the history of printmaking, prints could be widely distributed, both increasing the artists’ name recognition and inspiring connoisseurs to build important collections of their work. Then and now, prints can truly be an artist’s livelihood. A most democratic art form, printmaking allows artists to express their visual ideas while, at the same time, the affordability of prints reach a wide audience.

But perhaps most important to the artist is the excitement of working with flexible media that encourages experimentation at every step of the process. While the tools for making a print are mostly standard, prints are not merely reproductions. In the hands of a true artist, prints can achieve genius. The choice of ink and of paper, the determined pressure used to make the print, and the combination of several techniques in one image have led artists to experiment widely and produce startlingly innovative results, from the fifteenth century to today.

This exhibition was made possible by a generous gift endowed in memory of Elizabeth Miller Francis ’47.

The exhibition was curated by Nancy E. Green, the Gale and Ira Drukier Curator of European and American Art, Prints & Drawings, 1800–1945, at the Johnson Museum, with assistance from Christian Waibel ’17, the 2015 Nancy Horton Bartels ’48 Scholar for Collections.