Contemporary Printmaking Essay

Contemporary Printmaking Essay-45
Following the travels of six artists—Minna Citron (1896–1991), Worden Day (1912–1986), Sue Fuller (1914–2006), Jan Gelb (1906–1978), Alice Trumbull Mason, and Anne Ryan (1889–1954)—the discussion will center on several aspects of prints' circulation: peer-to-peer relationships, printmaking annuals, traveling exhibitions, museum collecting, and artists' groups that supported avant-garde printmaking. Viewshare map showing six locations of Alice Trumbull Mason's traveling etching show (1951-2).The number in the location bubble represents the number of prints shown at each venue.

Following the travels of six artists—Minna Citron (1896–1991), Worden Day (1912–1986), Sue Fuller (1914–2006), Jan Gelb (1906–1978), Alice Trumbull Mason, and Anne Ryan (1889–1954)—the discussion will center on several aspects of prints' circulation: peer-to-peer relationships, printmaking annuals, traveling exhibitions, museum collecting, and artists' groups that supported avant-garde printmaking. Viewshare map showing six locations of Alice Trumbull Mason's traveling etching show (1951-2).

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You are so easily labeled a printmaker.” In spite of these challenges, women artists boldly pursued connections within the postwar printmaking network, fighting for chances to secure public exposure for their prints and to build relationships with key professional contacts.

This article ultimately constructs a powerful narrative about this active but peripheral subgroup of the New York School.

Dorothy Noyes Arms, wife of John Taylor Arms who served as the organization's longtime president, noted poetically that the renamed Society of American Etchers, Gravers, Lithographers and Woodcutters, “rose phoenixlike from the ashes of the old.” These various special sections covered trends and exhibitions in the printmaking world and reviewed new print publications. Sheet: 42.8 x 61 cm (16 7/8 x 24 in.) Yale University Art Gallery, Anonymous Purchase Fund, 1977.10.7 Image courtesy Yale University Art Gallery Art courtesy of the Estate of the Artist and The Susan Teller Gallery, NY, NY.

Even though these magazines sometimes covered print news within the 57th Street gallery reviews, the print sections effectively segregated avant-garde graphic arts from mainstream modernism. Seizing on the opportunities that this explosion of postwar printmaking offered, women artists capitalized on prints' portability by sending their graphic work throughout the United States.

Alice Trumbull Mason, Interference of Closed Forms (1945) Engraving and etching (soft ground) with gouging.

Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art Art © Estate of Alice Trumbull Mason/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

In doing so, it demonstrates the intrepidness and bravery of these women printmakers to share their graphic art with a global audience.

It also reveals the significance of their prints in shaping postwar abstraction.

These understudied women artists, whose prints traversed the globe evangelizing for unfettered modernist expression and American democracy, were at the vanguard of feminist activity within the art world that exploded two decades later.

Although printmaking had a strong history in America coming into the twentieth century, several events combined around the mid-1940s to initiate a groundswell of support for modern printmaking.

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