On the Moment

by Susan Tallman

March 2015

This, our annual new editions issue, is meant to offer a snapshot of a moment in time—a collection of information more targeted than surveillance footage, but less constructed than a painting. Contemporary art and print are so frequently the same thing these days it may seem unnecessary to set aside an issue specifically for new editions, but printed art and printed editions are not always the same thing—and if the former has successfully infiltrated Chelsea and the evening auctions, the latter remains peculiarly invisible. Unfortunately, it remains the case that the art people are most likely to own is the art they are least likely to read about. So in this issue we compensate for neglect by looking closely at dozens of individual artworks.

There is no editorial argument behind the selection—we do not suggest that these are “the best” recent editions, nor have we tried to emphasise particular trends or identify particular symptoms. Instead, as in previous years, we simply asked contributors to select prints they found intriguing, meaningful or otherwise noteworthy. Altogether, 14 writers selected works by 36 artists from three continents. They include ambitious projects from storied workshops and home grown prints published by the artists who made them. The materials include paper, ink, sugar sack quilts, gold powder and human hair. The largest can fill a gallery wall; the smallest could be carried in a notebook. Suffice it to say, homogeneity is not the problem.

Access and distribution, on the other hand, do present obstacles for audiences. Even with multiple writers in multiple locations, the number of works that can be seen in person is limited. But since photographic reproductions carry such a small fraction of information about an object, we do ask that all reviews be written from the actual work of art. Undoubtedly, as a result, many wonderful projects have been missed.

The attentive Art in Print reader will observe that we violate this rule of first-hand knowledge with our Prix de Print competition, which is judged on the basis of digital images. In the case of the Prix, we found this to be the lesser of two evils—if artists had to pay shipping costs for physical objects, the entry pool could quickly retreat into a small puddle of the diminutive, the local and the rich. The pages of Art in Print have been greatly enriched by the broad range of Prix de Print winners, including the current one, chosen by critic and curator Sarah Kirk Hanley: Jeremy Lundquist’s Stability Dynamics, an ambitious multi-state etching project that investigates the collision of design strategies and military strategies, and occupies some 86 square feet.

The focus on contemporary art continues in the exhibition reviews that follow: poet and critic Vincent Katz surveys Richard Tuttle’s print retrospective at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art; Laurie Hurwitz discusses Matthew Brandt’s “Woodcuts” in Paris; Mary MacNaughton examines Nancy Macko’s interdisciplinary prints in Los Angeles; and Étienne Tremblay-Tardif looks at the ambitious print-based installations of Andrée-Anne Dupuis-Bourret and the team of Leslie Mutchler and Jason Urban at in Montreal. Ruth E. Iskin’s new book on the early history of the poster, reviewed here by Sarah C. Schaefer, is rooted in the 19th century rather than the 21st, but the catalogue of the Scripps College exhibition “Women and Print: A Contemporary View,” also reviewed in these pages, is very much of this moment.

One final note: we are pleased to announce the launch of our new website this past month. While visually similar to the old site, it is significantly easier to navigate and includes a number of new features for subscribers: the long-dormant members’ page now offers direct access to all current content (you no longer have to download the PDF just to get at a single article), as well as all the news items featured in the biweekly eBlasts and more. The Prix de Print now enjoys its own page and the calendar is vastly improved. More changes will be coming as we rebuild the “Resources” section into an effective source for research on the history and production of artists’ prints. We encourage you to send us your thoughts about the site and how it might be further improved.

As always, Art in Print is a reflection of the community that supports it—the artists, printers, collectors, curators, scholars and collectors who recognize prints as catalysts of culture.  Thank you.