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Master of the Floating World

  • "Hokusai (1760–1849)"

  • Grand Palais, Galeries nationales, Paris

Katsushika Hokusai, Kudan Ushigafuchi (Ushigafuchi at Kudan) (ca.1804-1807), color woodblock print (nishiki-e), 18 × 24.5 cm. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris. ©BnF, dist. Rmn-Grand Palais / image BnF

Restless, eccentric and obsessive, the Japanese woodblock master Hokusai (1760–1849) created a staggering, multifaceted oeuvre of some 30,000 works depicting a wide range of motifs in a variety of mediums, styles and moods. While he spent most of his life in Edo (now known as Tokyo), he moved a total of 93 times and ceaselessly reinvented himself as an artist …Read More

KP Brehmer’s Realpolitik

  • "KP Brehmer. Real Capital–Production"

  • Raven Row, London

Installation view: “KP Brehmer. Real Capital Production,” Raven Row, 2014. Right: Auswahlbeutel Kiloware (Kiloware Assorted Bag) (1967), print on card, on melamine under plastic, 116 × 145 cm. Estate of KP Brehmer, Berlin. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

The late German artist KP Brehmer (1938–1997) is less well-known than his contemporaries Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, but like them he was closely associated with Galerie René Block and with the “Capitalist Realism” strain of ambivalent pop art in the 1960s and early ’70s. …Read More

The Rake’s Progress

  • "Hockney, Printmaker"

  • Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
  • Bowes Museum, County Durham

David Hockney, Myself and My Heroes (1961), etching in black with aquatint, 10 1/4 x 19 3/4 inches. Edition of 50 (approximately). ©David Hockney.

The exhibition “Hockney, Printmaker,” shown in two British locations this year, marked the 60th anniversary of the artist’s first print, the lithograph Self-Portrait (1954). This retrospective of some of David Hockney’s most personal, playful and eloquent works seems to have satisfied the critics’ desire to revisit the autobiographical and graphic elements the artist neglected in his recent Yorkshire landscapes. …Read More

27 Square Meters, 1001 Nights

  • "Yona Friedman: 1001 nuits + 1 jour"

  • mfc-michèle didier, Paris

Yona Friedman, from 1001 nuits + 1 jour (2014), artist’s book. Produced and published by mfc-michèle didier. ©2014 Yona Friedman and mfc-michèle didier.

My studio on the Boulevard Pasteur was small (27 square meters),” reminisces the 91-year-old Hungarian architect Yona Friedman in the preface to 1001 nuits + 1 jour, his new artist’s book. Describing this tiny Parisian atelier, he explains, “I didn’t repaint the walls, but covered them with drawings … of my secret, imaginary world.” …Read More

Ruscha’s Course of Empire

  • "Ed Ruscha: Prints and Photographs"

  • Gagosian Gallery, New York

Ed Ruscha, Periods (2013), lithograph, 73 x 71.1 cm. Edition of 60. ©Ed Ruscha. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photo: Robert McKeever.

New York was not one of the venues for the retrospective “Ed Ruscha: Editions 1959–99,” organized by Siri Engberg at the Walker Art Center 15 years ago. It traveled to Los Angeles, where Ruscha has long resided, and to Tampa, but not to the Northeast. A New Yorker, I remember feeling really disappointed about that at the time. Ruscha is one of a handful of postwar artists for whom the printed image (photographs, books, portfolios and wall-mounted editions) has been as important as any of his work in monumental mediums. …Read More

Gauguin at MoMA

  • "Gauguin: Metamorphoses"

  • The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Paul Gauguin, Tahitian Woman with Evil Spirit, recto (ca. 1900), oil-transfer drawing, sheet 56.1 x 45.3 cm. Private collection.

The Museum of Modern Art’s sumptuous “Gauguin: Metamorphoses” this past spring was the first large-scale exhibition to foreground the celebrated painter’s extraordinary graphic achievements and frame them within the context not only of his paintings but also of his woodcarvings, ceramics and writings. Organized by Starr Figura, the museum’s curator of prints and drawings, the exhibition comprised some 150 works …Read More

Past Partisans

  • "The Left Front: Radical Art in the ‘Red Decade,’ 1929–1940"

  • Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University Evanston, Illinois

American journalist Eugene Lyons coined the term “Red Decade” for the period in the 1930s when the Russian Revolution energized leftists in the United States. The Block Museum’s recent exhibition showcased works created by artists involved in the American Communist Party’s John Reed Clubs during the Great Depression. …Read More

Collective Brilliance

  • "What May Come: The Taller de Gráfica Popular and the Mexican Political Print"

  • Art Institute of Chicago

Leopoldo Méndez, What May Come (Mexico, 1945) (1945), wood engraving in black on grayish-ivory China paper, image 30.3 x 17.6 cm, sheet 42.1 x 32.6 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago. ©2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City.

From 1937 until the mid-1950s, the Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP) workshop produced the most inventive, provocative and topically relevant prints in Mexico. Published as broadsides, posters, books, handbills and portfolios, TGP prints showcased the possibilities of graphic art as a powerful and polemical instrument. Founding members Leopoldo Méndez, Pablo O’Higgins and Luis Arenal stated in their group’s Declaration of Principles that “art must reflect the social reality of the times” but that art “can only truly serve the people if it is of the very highest plastic quality.” …Read More

Lingen, Melby, Miller

  • "Proof"

  • Planthouse, New York

Vija Celmins, detail of Wood Engraving, No Title (1995), wood engraving,16 x 14 inches. Edition of 47.

A year after taking root in a vacant flower shop on West 28th Street in New York City, Planthouse has become a home to daring exhibitions by emerging artists as well as a supportive venue for prints. “Proof” was the gallery’s first project to include the work of eminent artists such as Chuck Close, Joel Shapiro and Vija Celmins. …Read More

Chiaroscuro Woodcut: Baselitz Divided

  • "Renaissance Impressions: Chiaroscuro Woodcuts from the Collections of Georg Baselitz and the Albertina, Vienna"

  • Royal Academy of Arts, London
  • "Germany Divided: Georg Baselitz and his Generation. From the Duerckheim Collection"

  • British Museum, London

Once every decade or so an exhibition comes along that constitutes a landmark in its purpose and scope. Though Renaissance paintings and drawings regularly form the focus of blockbuster museum shows, Renaissance prints are another matter altogether, and woodcuts have been particularly neglected. …Read More

Feininger Prints

  • "Lyonel Feininger: Master Printmaker"

  • Moeller Fine Art, New York

Lyonel Feininger, Drei Tannen (Three Fir Trees) (1919), woodcut on Oriental laid paper, 8.9 x 8.3 cm. Moeller Fine Art, New York.

More than 50 of Lyonel Feininger’s extraordinary early woodcuts from his personal collection, in pristine condition and rarely seen, were on view at Moeller Fine Art in New York earlier this year after a run at the gallery’s Berlin branch, whose permanent closure was announced in June after five years of operation. …Read More

The Enigma Machine, Jasper Johns

  • "Jasper Johns: Regrets"

  • The Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • "Jasper Johns and John Lund: Masters in the Print Studio"

  • Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, New York

Jasper Johns, The Seasons (1990), aquatint and etching, image (irreg.): 43 3/8 x 38 5/8 inches, sheet: 50 x 44 9/16 inches. Published by Universal Limited Art Editions. Art © Jasper Johns and ULAE/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Over the past 60 years, Jasper Johns has developed a body of work whose images of flags, maps and targets are instantly recognizable to any seasoned viewer of modern art. Impersonal in subject yet tenderly executed in encaustic paint or lithographic tusche, in pencil, ink or lead relief, these symbols simultaneously entice and resist the viewer. …Read More

Beyond Tamarind

  • "June Wayne: Paintings, Prints, and Tapestries"

  • Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena

June Wayne, Dusty Helix (State I) from the Burning Helix Series (1970), lithograph, 25 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches. ©The June Wayne Collection, courtesy Louis Stern Fine Arts.

As founder and director of Tamarind Lithography Workshop, June Wayne has long been recognized as a major figure in American printmaking. Not only was she essential to the revival of lithography in America, she also enriched Los Angeles’ nascent art scene of the 1960s …Read More

Frameless: Wall Works in Berlin

  • "Wall Works"

  • Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin

Painting and sculpture—self-contained, unique and transportable—are the forms on which the modern art world was built. The congregating, dispersing and reconfiguring of discrete objects in and out of collections and exhibitions (with money to be made at each point of transfer) feed both the market and the museum. In the 1960s and ’70s, editions (because they are not unique) and site-specific installations (because they are not portable) were hailed as tools for undermining that system. …Read More

Vector Analysis

  • "Louise Lawler: No Drones"

  • Sprüth Magers, London

At the end of Grafton Street in London, Sprüth Magers’ large, proscenium-like window gave passersbys a glimpse of Louise Lawler’s exhibition. Most of the works inside were black-and-white tracings of her photographs of famous artworks in domestic spaces, institutions and storage. With the help of children’s book author, illustrator and artist Jon Buller, Lawler made vector files …Read More

Line v. Color

  • "Matisse: The Essence of Line. Selected Prints: 1900–1950"

  • Marlborough Galleries, New York
  • London

Remember a line cannot exist alone; it always brings a companion along […] No lines can go wild; every line must have its function.

—Henri Matisse, 1908 …Read More

Aldo Crommelynck: Master and Midwife

  • "From Picasso to Jasper Johns, the Atelier of Aldo Crommelynck"

  • Bibliothèque nationale de France François-Mitterrand, Galerie François Ier, Paris

Portrait of Aldo Crommelynck (2007). BnF, départment des Estampes et de la photographie. ©David Paul Carr / BnF.

This stunning exhibition at the Bibliothèque nationale de France pays homage to the master printer Aldo Crommelynck (1931–2008), a private, laconic figure justly celebrated for his technical virtuosity. Although best known for his long-lasting collaboration with Pablo Picasso, Crommelynck was a transgenerational figure who worked with younger artists, many British and American, first in Paris and later in New York. …Read More

Djamel Tatah in the Atelier

  • "Djamel Tatah: Oeuvre(s) sur papier / Work(s) on Paper"

  • Atelier Michael Woolworth, Paris

Djamel Tatah, Untitled (workshop code: Wood 0113) (2013), woodcut and lithograph, 133 x 250 cm. Printed by Julien Torhy at Atelier Michael Woolworth, Paris. Published by Michael Woolworth, Paris. ©Djamel Tatah.

In 2006 the Paris-based master printer Michael Woolworth invited French painter Djamel Tatah to pick up a crayon and draw on a lithography stone for the first time. Recently, in Woolworth’s atelier, tucked behind the relentless roar of traffic at the Place de la Bastille, they mounted an authoritative overview of what is now eight years of rich collaboration. …Read More

John Sparagana Reads the News

  • "John Sparagana: Crowds and Powder"

  • Corbet vs. Dempsey, Chicago

News photographs permeate our visual environment—a morning read of the newspaper, a commuter’s view of tiny tumbnails on an iPhone while on the train, a lunch break spent scanning newsfeeds on the computer. Approaching John Sparagana’s exhibition “Crowds and Powder,” I immediately recognized the source material and felt as if it were part of my media routine …Read More

Paper as Politics and Process

  • "Social Paper"

  • Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts, Chicago

“Social Paper,” at the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts (CBPA), illuminated how papermaking has been used by artists, activists, citizens and designers to address social ills. Organized by curator Jessica Cochran and professor Melissa Potter, the exhibition revealed the interdisciplinary practices and multiple roles of socially concerned artists as micro-business managers, educators, historians. …Read More