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Three Centuries of American Prints from the National Gallery of Art
April 3 - July 24, 2016
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. On view in Washington from April 3 through July 24, 2016, 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. The exhibition will travel to the National Gallery in Prague from October 4, 2016 through January 5, 2017, followed by Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City from February 7 through April 30, 2017.
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.
"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."
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.
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. (right: Frances Flora Bond Palmer, A Midnight Race on the Mississippi, 1860, color lithograph with hand-coloring on wove paper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Donald and Nancy de Laski Fund)
The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
American Prints at the National Gallery of Art
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.
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 Terra Foundation for American Art provided additional funding for the exhibition catalog.
Published by the National Gallery of Art, the fully illustrated scholarly catalog provides a vantage point from which to assess the rich terrain of American prints. Drawing on the keen eyes and insightful points of view of 15 emerging and established scholars-experts in American art or history generally, not only in prints-the catalog offers a fresh range of interpretations. Biographies of the artists and a glossary of printmaking terms are additional features. The 360-page hardcover catalog will be available in April 2016. To order, please visit http://shop.nga.gov/; call (800) 697-9350 or (202) 842-6002; fax (202) 789-3047; or e-mail email@example.com.
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.
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For biographical information on certain artists referenced in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
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