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Humanities and Social Sciences Library > Collections > Print Collection > Multiple Interpretations

Multiple Interpretations


Prints by definition suggest multiplicity, and printmaking lends itself to projects that are best expressed through multiple images. The artists represented in this exhibition have taken advantage of printmaking’s penchant for serial imagery in order to tell a story, to take a stand on political and social concerns, to consider formal issues, and to explore the creative process. The experience of viewing a portfolio of prints, of progressing print by print, offers a sense of discovery as the totality of the work of art and the artist’s intention are revealed over time. Some series should be viewed in a particular sequence; with others, it is the cumulative effect that the artist is seeking. In all the projects shown here, the individual prints are to be considered within the context of a series, rather than examined in isolation.

Ever since the invention of printmaking, artists have created prints in series to supply a running commentary, with or without an accompanying text. John Wilson is inspired by Richard Wright’s Down by the Riverside, David Avery elaborates in God’s Food on the titles of the Grimms’ fairy tales, and David Levinthal reinvents Uncle Tom’s Cabin with vintage lead figures. In Suit Shopping: An Engraved Narrative, Andrew Raftery imagines a visit to an upscale mall. Tony Fitzpatrick’s The Rain Quartet becomes a personal meditation on loss and mourning. Through the transformation of successive images in his latter-day fairy tale, Knight Interlude, Ernesto Caivano alludes to man’s relationship to nature. David Shrigley invites viewers to invent their own narration.

Social and political concerns motivate Sandow Birk in Leading Causes of Death in America, Daniel Heyman in The Amman Project, and Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese in Line Up. Allusions to and the consideration of gender are implicit in Diane E. Jacobs’s Using language as my witness: 10 Women’s Faces, E. V. Day’s The Cellular Communion Series, and Julião Sarmento’s sensual and sensory explorations in The House with the Upstairs in It. Through his homage to “man as builder,” Chris Burden reflects upon his appreciation of the logic of structure, while Mark Dion and Robert Williams in their series of genealogical trees similarly address the importance of man-made systems to give order to a complex world.

Although seemingly nonrepresentational, Kevin Appel’s overlapping, transparent planes make reference to Modernist architecture, and Christiane Baumgartner’s compositions of parallel horizontal lines render fragments of reality dissected from one second of video. Olafur Eliasson’s series of glowing configurations and graphs in Vibes is integrally connected to a real, though ordinarily not visible, world. Olaf Nicolai’s elegant, abstract plotter prints in Flamme der Revolution—fliegend elaborate upon a 1967 abstract sculpture to communicate a veiled political message.

The actual process of printmaking shapes Wayne Gonzales’s colorful reduction linocuts. For Elliott Green, printmaking is an especially adept medium for revealing the evolution of his rollicking, morphing figures. Thomas Nozkowski and Juan Uslé use multiple images to demonstrate the variety and inventiveness of their abstract imagery.

All the portfolios in this exhibition were acquired by the Print Collection within the past ten years, and are shown here as completely as space has allowed.


Roberta Waddell, Curator of Prints, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs

This exhibition has been made possible by the continuing generosity of Miriam and Ira D. Wallach.

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