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American Alliance of Museums

 



Home > Exhibitions > Pulled Pressed & Screened

Pulled Pressed & Screened

May 26 - July 22, 2018

Pulled Pressed & Screened

The period between 1930 and 1980 could arguably be one of the most important phases in American printmaking. The regionalist and urban realist art movements burst on the scene and government supported workshops helped make printmaking equipment available to practitioners of these art trends. Once held biases towards particular print media were being abandoned. The European avant-garde use of print media showed that it was the image and the ideas behind the art that mattered most. American artists quickly adopted similar new ideas and began to fashion their own agenda of what constituted artistic potential including the adaptation of industrial materials and machinery. A new inclusive environment toward all printmaking media would emerge during these 50 years.

The influx of European artists into the USA (and especially New York City) spurred by the rise of fascist and Nazi governments, had a profound impact on the printmaking environment in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Young American artists such as Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, and Mark Rothko were able to work along side important European painter/printmakers such as Joan MirĂ³, Marc Chagall and Yves Tanguy. The transfer of ideas and the excitement generated by this exchange energized the various communities of artists- surrealists, abstract expressionists, social realists, and others who inhabited the print studios of the 1940s.
 After the second World War print workshops opened and welcomed a new generation of artists to develop their art. The idea of a communal workshop where artists could find print presses and other materials needed to create editions of prints emerged and took hold. Within the next twenty years universities and art schools around the country developed well-equipped studios and printshops as well as knowledgeable technicians sharing their expertise. This atmosphere created an environment that helped artists appreciate the ubiquitous nature of printed materials as a way of exposing their art to the widest possible audience. Collaborations between artists and printers enabled artists to realize qualities in their print designs that otherwise might never have been achieved.
American printmaking continued to evolve during the next several decades and artists pushed the processes in innovative ways. Color screenprinting and color lithography became very popular with young artists and often both processes were combined to get maximum effect. An appreciation of printing technologies often used for commercial printing allowed artists to experiment with these techniques and realize new potential. Printmaking emerged from this period as the media of choice for many important artists and that reality continues to this day.
This exhibition of 50 important American prints surveys the activities of artists who put designs on paper during this exciting period. Thomas Hart Benton, Anne Ryan, Milton Avery, Dorothy Dehner, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Catlett, Jasper Johns and Romare Bearden are a few of the artists represented in this examination of the growth in popularity of printmaking among American artists during this 50 year period. Especially significant are the contributions of women to printmaking during this period as well as the impact of African American artists on the graphic arts. Combined with artists who immigrated to the United States during these decades and the increased numbers of painters and sculptors who took up printmaking, this exhibition makes abundantly clear the egalitarian nature of the print.

The exhibition is organized by the Syracuse University Art Galleries and drawn from the Syracuse University Art Collection holdings of more than 12,500 prints.