Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art (Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso, Miro, Lucian Freud, Damien Hirst)

Artists & Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art showcased 30 artists, ranging from Paul Gauguin in the late nineteenth century to Damien Hirst in the twenty-first century.
Artists & Prints was presented in three changing rotations, starting November 20, 2004, each including from 75 to 100 works.

Many of the artists were represented by several examples to demonstrate the range of their experimentation with printmaking techniques. Masterworks by Pablo Picasso and Jasper Johns, and 23 new acquisitions including those by Henri Matisse, Edward Ruscha, and Lucian Freud, were some of the featured works.

To provide visitors with an overview of modern printmaking’s development, and to underscore the contribution of the medium to modern art generally, these works were exhibited chronologically.

Some prints on view in this first rotation were gifts specifically to celebrate the Museum’s reopening, including

Lucian Freud’s Solicitor’s Head (2003) and Edward Ruscha’s series of screenprints from the 1960s on the subject of a Standard gas station.

Among other new acquisitions were Kiki Smith’s Peacock (1997), Shahzia Sikander’s Afloat (2001), Martin Puryear’s Untitled (2001), Christian Marclay’s Untitled (1991), and

Damien Hirst’s Burning Wheel from In a Spin, the Action of the World on Things (2002). All add further dimension to what already is considered the finest collection of its kind in the world.

Artists & Prints presented modern printmaking from its beginnings, featuring advances in color lithography that occurred in the late nineteenth century.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s poster for the artistic journal La Revue blanche (1895) is an example of how this technique flourished.

The exhibition also showcased two of Picasso’s landmark etchings,

The Weeping Woman (1937)

and Minotauromachy (1935).

New acquisitions, such as

Beckmann’s At the Toilette (1923),

Miró’s Untitled from Series II (1947),

and Matisse’s Marie-José in a Yellow Dress (1950) rounded out the history of the medium during these years, while several works by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg signal a transition to the contemporary period.

Artists & Prints was presented in three rotations during the inaugural year: Part 1 on view November 20, 2004–March 14, 2005; Part 2, April 5–July 4, 2005; and Part 3, July 26– October 24, 2005.


A publication entitled Artists & Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, by Deborah Wye, The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Chief Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books ($49.95, published by The Museum of Modern Art), accompanied the exhibition. It not only served as a catalogue of works shown in the inaugural year in the Prints and Illustrated Books Galleries, but also provides an overview of printmaking in the modern period. This 288-page book is the most comprehensive volume devoted to the Department’s collection. Included are color plates of 350 works from the late nineteenth century to the present and texts on individual artists, as well as essays on the history of modern printmaking and the history of collecting prints at MoMA. The volume concludes with a scholarly bibliography, indices of artists, publishers, and printers, and a glossary.