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To Serve the Common Good: The Grinnell College Art Collection

Installation view: “Crossing the Line: Selections from the Grinnell College Art Collection,” Faulconer Gallery, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA, 2017.

Grinnell College, a highly ranked private institution in central Iowa, was founded by abolitionists in 1846. This foundation in civil rights continues to inform its mission: the college aims to prepare its students to “serve the common good” and work toward social justice. …Read More

A Socially Acceptable Form of Addiction

Tom Huck, Dollar Dance (2001), woodcut, 52 x 38 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Print collecting is a socially acceptable form of addiction. It can come to dominate one’s life, demanding time, travel and money. So it has been with us, since shortly after we married in 1959. As newlyweds we lived in northern New Jersey while John was in the Army, and we spent time in New York City exploring the art scene …Read More

Collecting a Life

View of the author’s collection installed in the entrance gallery of her New York apartment. From left to right: Robert Rauschenberg, Silkscreen #3 from The Seat of Authority (1979), screenprint, 30 5/8 x 23 1/8 inches; Jasper Johns, Untitled (Coca Cola) (1971), lithograph, 39 x 29 1/2 inches; Robert Motherwell, Pauillac #3 (1973), lithograph and screenprint, 35 5/8 x 18 1/4 inches; Robert Motherwell, Pauillac #4 (1973), lithograph, screenprint and collage, 35 3/8 x 18 1/4 inches. Below, in acrylic display case: Lynne Allen, Ita ta Win Bag (2003), photolithograph on 19th-century goatskin land document, linen thread, horsehair tassel, collaged square, leather hanger, approximately 6 x 4 x 3 inches. Photo: Elliott Mickleburgh.

Collectors always remember their first purchase. When I was a college senior, I bought a small oil painting, Boat in Harbor, by a sophomore named Barbara Gerson for $30. She needed spending money and I wanted to help her …Read More

Norman Ackroyd’s Collectors

Norman Ackroyd, Inishbofin Sound (2005), etching, 18 x 26.5 cm.

Like Jacques Callot and Hercules Segers, Norman Ackroyd’s primary identity is as an etcher. Copper and acid are his native media. He works in oil sometimes, in watercolor often; he has produced steel and bronze etched reliefs for buildings, recycling the beauties of the copper plate on a monumental scale …Read More

William Kentridge: Drawing Has its Own Memory

William Kentridge, from Domestic Scenes (1980), etchings with soft ground and aquatint, each from one copper plate, images varying 11.5 x 13.5 or 16 cm, sheets varying 28.5 x 38 cm. Edition of 30 incomplete. Printed and published by the artist, Johannesburg.

A murderous truth came rudely to the South African artist William Kentridge when, as a six-year-old boy, he mistook a yellow Kodak box on his father’s desk for a box of chocolates. Inside were photos of a woman with her back blown off, someone with only half her head visible …Read More

The Things Paper Carries: The Combat Paper Project

Drew Cameron and Drew Matott, Breaking Rank (2007), pulp stencil print on handmade paper from military uniforms, 29 x 51 inches. Courtesy Drew Cameron.

Why can’t our veterans see themselves as we see them—luminous in their service and lucky to have the rest of their lives ahead of them? Why can’t they leave the war behind? The truth, of course, is that warriors bring their war home with them, not like a tan acquired on holiday but like a secret they wish they hadn’t been told. —Robert Emmet Meagher

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DocArt Trauma: Eric Avery’s AIDS Works

Eric Avery, Blood Test (1986), molded paper woodcut, 48 x 16 inches. Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA. Purchased with the gift of Sue Reed, class of 1958. Courtesy of the artist.

A forearm is stretched full length, veins up. The fist is clenched, a cord knotted around the lower bicep. We’ve all been there—when our blood is taken or, in a different human context, when we give blood—but not everyone has felt the intensity of fear …Read More

Dark and Bright Art: Woodcuts in the Aftermath of War

Fig. 1. Cover Page of Woodcuts of War-time China. Reproduced from Zhonghua muke xiehui 中華全國木刻協會(The Association of Chinese Woodcuts), Kanzhan banian muke xuanji 抗戰八年木刻選集 Woodcuts of War-time China (Shanghai: Kaiming shudian, 1946).

In a talk given at Jinan University in Shanghai in 1927, the leftwing artist Lu Xun (1881–1936) argued, “contemporary art describes our society, and even we are written into it. Previous art, like a fire across a river, had little to do with us …Read More