November 11, 2020, is the 102nd anniversary of the end of World War I. It is known as Armistice Day in the US—generically now called Veterans’ Day—and in the UK it is called Remembrance Day. (Brits wear those red poppies pins to mark the day.) I believe remembering and knowing our shared history is critical. Ignorance too easily leads to repeating actions that could/should be avoided. World War I was a tremendously deadly conflict, and its devastation should never be forgotten. Exact numbers of the dead are not known—even though the war was the first in which soldiers were issued identification tags—but estimates range from 9 million to 22 million deaths, including both military and civilian. Marking days like this reminds us of how much we had to lose and how much we gained. And how fragile it all is.
There are many artists on both sides who created work in response to the war, but I want to introduce you to British artist and World War I veteran, Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson (1889–1946), whose prints I always wanted to acquire for the museum. When you work in a vast collection of prints, one gets lulled into a sense of “we must have something by X artist.” It always surprised me to find the collection lacked anything or anyone. But the BMA’s collection has no prints by Nevinson, whose works from the war period I find to be stunning.
Timing and inflated prices often prevent curators from filling gaps—it’s super frustrating. In my time at the museum several artists’ prints that were on our wish list had prohibitively high prices: Provincetown white-line woodcuts by Blanche Lazell, early American modernist etchings by Edward Hopper, color linoleum cuts by the Grosvenor School, color prints by Mary Cassatt, etchings by master-of-urban-scenes Martin Lewis. The same is true about prints by Nevinson; his prices were out of range for our acquisition budget. Ah well. Let me show you why his prints are on my list.
Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson, sometimes recorded as C.R.W. Nevinson and called Richard, was an artist who made his mark with scenes of World War I, a conflict in which he took part. He spent the beginning of the war in the Friends’ Ambulance Unit tending wounded French and English soldiers. He was appointed an official war artist in 1917. In addition to prints, he also created paintings.
Artistically, Nevinson’s early friendship with the founder of Italian Futurism, Filippo Tomasso Emilio Marinetti, had an immense influence on the former’s style, particularly in its machine-age aesthetic. He also befriended, and then had a falling out with, radical writer and artist Wyndham Lewis who formed the Vorticists group. Nevinson, whose sensibility was a natural fit for the Vorticists, was banned from the group. No matter. After making some remarkably modernist, powerful, and beautiful prints, eventually Nevinson decided that mode of image making wasn’t adequate to convey the horrors of war and he began to create imagery in a more realist manner. It’s always curious when an artist’s stylistic trajectory seems to travel backward but take a look at these prints from the ’teens and judge for yourself.
The third fair during New York Print Week is the Satellite Fair, which includes exhibitors from across the spectrum. Maybe this is why my choices today are so numerous and run from 1895 to yesterday. Maybe this shows I’m a bit ADD, but that is why being a curator of prints, drawings, and photographs was so perfect for me. One can take a deep dive into an artist or subject, then pop back up and move on to something else, something completely different. One can be all over the place, and in fact, one has to be to manage a collection of any size.
I always said I had my specialties in works on paper—British watercolors of the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, American works on paper from Homer to early-twentieth century Modernism, and modern and contemporary prints and photographs—but that really I am a generalist.
How to account for me leading off with a French work from 1895 and ending with a print about the Coronavirus? Well, I love a good print of great design and execution, no matter the source. I love early-twentieth century urban scenes, mid-century abstraction, biting social criticism, a beautifully executed etching and aquatint (of any subject), and pure beauty. So here are my selections from the Satellite Fair.
New York Print Week, even if experienced remotely, is the most wonderful time of the year.
The second fair we never miss during New York Print Week is the Editions and Artists Books fair, known as E/AB. If the IFPDA fair is the grandfather of print fairs, E/AB, managed by the Lower East Side Print Shop (no small task), is the scrappy twenty something hipster. It attracts younger, newly established, and smaller shops as vendors, along with more established ones that prefer E/AB’s hipper vibe. That means you may not be as familiar with many of the artists on offer, but you’ll likely find something at a lower price point. In other words, it’s a great place to start as a new collector.
UnMute Yourself, 2020
14 7/8 x 20 7/8 inches
Printed by Martin Mazorra
Vladimir Cybil Charlier
What happens to a dream deferred (Dream Deferred portfolio), 2020
Archival Inkjet print with screenprint
Sheet: 18 x 12 inches
Image: 15 x 10 inches
Printed by Pepe Coronado
FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture
Monument Quilt Project, 2020
Fabric and thread
96 x 96 inches
Ship of Fools, 2020
Polymer gravure with chine collé
Image: 21 ¾ x 17 inches
Sheet: 30 x 22 inches
Printed and published by Flatbed Press
Parastou Forouhar (Iranian, b. 1962)
Water Mark, 2015
Two-color lithograph and nine-colors pigmented over-beaten flax pulp paint on abaca sheets
37 ¼ × 22 ½ inches
Published by the Brodsky Center at PAFA, Philadelphia
Nets I-VII, 2019
Suite of seven lithographs
Each sheet: 12 3/4 x 10 inches
Printed and published by Deb Chaney Editions
The Vast Sky, 2018
Accordion-fold volume with screenprints
13 3/4 x 9 7/8 inches
Printed and published by Anémona Editores and TPT Gráfica
Portfolio of eight multi-block linoleum cuts on handmade Japanese Hamada Kozo paper
Each sheet: 19 1/2 x 18 inches
Printed by Erin McAdams, Harry Schneider, Max Valentine, and assisted by Wendy Li
Published by Mullowney Printing
Raven Chacon (Navajo)
Horse Notations, 2019
23 3/4 x 30 inches
Printed by Judith Baumann
Published by Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts
Polymer photogravure (two plates printed with 35 colors plus black)
23 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches
Printed by Jennifer Mahlman
Co-published by Eminence Grise Editions and Hales Gallery (London)
Diving Humpback, 2016
Etching printed in black and blue, a la poupee
64 x 106.5 cm
Printed by the artist
Glasgow Print Studio
Six-plate aquatint etching with hard ground, soft ground, spit bite, sugar lift, and dry point
Plate: 28 x 22 inches
Sheet: 40 x 30 3/4 inches
Printed by Wingate Studio
Published by Kasmin Gallery
Softground etching, drypoint, engraving, and aquatint
Sheet: 38 x 30 7/8
Plate: 30 x 24 inches
Printed and published by Harlan & Weaver
Mark Thomas Gibson
Etching and aquatint
13 1/2 x 15 3/4 inches
Printed by Burnet Editions
Published by IPCNY
The First Time, The Heart (First Pulse, Flatline), 2017
Diptych: lithograph on hand-flamed and sooted paper, lithotine lift and shellac
Each: 11 1⁄2 x 14 1⁄4 inches
Printed and published by Island Press, Washington University in St. Louis
30 x 40 inches
Printed by Peter Haarz
Published by Petrichor Press
Willem de Kooning. Geniuses are nothing if not complicated in their methods and motivations, 2015
Accordion-bound volume with graphite, acrylic, ink and collage
Closed: 9 x 6 inches; open: 9 x 44 inches
Composition with Registration Marks and Other Marks, 2017
Five-plate aquatint etching with burnishing, soap ground, and spit bite
Plate: 24 x 18 inches
Sheet: 31 3/4 x 24 1/2 inches
Printed and published by Wingate Studio
Ann's art blog
A small corner of the interwebs to share thoughts on objects I acquired for the Baltimore Museum of Art's collection, research I've done on Stanley William Hayter and Atelier 17, experiments in intaglio printmaking, and the Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair.