This post wraps up my picks from the West Coast Print Fair, a new virtual fair that, during the pandemic, compensated for the cancellation of a group of fairs that normally take place in January and February along the West Coast. When I first posted selections from this fair, I promised to articulate what makes a great print. Of course, what makes a great print is in the eye of the beholder. Please know these are my subjective opinions.
The best way I can describe what makes a print great (or a work of art in any media) is to take you inside my mind. Yesterday I laid out the two big concepts: visual impact and emotional impact. There’s a lot contained in both categories. This list of questions helps me think through and assess any work of art.
It’s important to note, however, that a great print does not need to address each and every one of these questions. In fact, I don’t know that such a print exists (I’ll think on that). Here goes.
· Does it elicit any feelings (good or bad)?
· Is it thoughtful? Does it ask more questions than it answers?
· Is it overwrought? Is there unnecessary stuff in it? Could it be said with less?
· Does it have a tight conceptual circle—does the idea translate into a work that expresses the idea clearly and well?
· Does the choice of technique(s) add to its meaning?
· Does it nod to art history in a smart way without being derivative?
· Does it nod to meta? Does it understand itself?
· Does the work take an idea and transform it into a conversation starter?
· Is it by someone other than a white, cis-gender male?
· Does it have visual impact? This does not mean large and colorful and is a truly subjective gut reaction.
· Does it express a great design sensibility?
· Does it have a range of lights and darks, wonderful transparencies, interesting patterns?
· Does it capture atmosphere, reflections, ephemeral things?
· Does it embrace its own delicacy or roughness?
· Is it readable/legible/comprehensible, or utter nonsense?
· Is it more than merely decorative?
· Is it indexical? Is the image of its own making?
· Does it cross disciplines in an interesting/meaningful way?
· Does it tell a great story?
· If I were presenting it to a accessions committee, how much is there to say? Thirty seconds worth or thirty minutes worth?
In a weird turnabout, the emotional aspects are quantifiable--identifying whether the technique adds to the meaning is pretty straight forward. But the visual elements are highly subjective--visual impact is totally in the eye of the beholder. Curious. There is so much more, but I think this is a pretty good start.
I never wanted to do anything else besides create ways to tell interesting stories through great art. I love works that sit at the intersection of new and old, of abstract representation and representational abstraction, of beauty and toughness, of stark crispness, and pure emotion. Have I set too high a bar? Maybe. And this doesn't address my feeling that a work that is appropriate for an institutional collection is not necessarily one I could live with, and vice versa. There is a place for the decorative, after all.
Please enjoy this final group from the westcoastprintfair.com. Remember the randomness derives from the list running alphabetically by dealer. Today we start with Sh (Keith Sheridan) and wrap up with V (The Verne Collection).
Here is #WestCoastPrintFair Curator's Choice, 5/5.
#prints #printmaking #printfair #curatorschoice #contemporaryprintmaking #contemporaryart #woodcut #relief #colorprints #printing #womenartists #collectart #artcollector #supportlivingartists #loveart #masterprinter #art #saga #societyofamericangraphicartists #nonobjectiveart #abstractart #londonoriginalprintfair #royalacademy #ifpda
When I first shared these curator's choice posts on Facebook, I got a comment from a friend asking me to report on what makes a print great. I had yet to formulate a full answer, so I started with this. For me, it comes down to two things: visual impact and emotional impact. Does the work have visual power? Are its formal qualities like composition, execution, technique, top notch? Does the work have emotional power? Does it elicit a feeling, tell a powerful story, make us laugh? Does it have heart—does it reveal something about its maker? Does the formal reflect the emotional and vice versa?
It’s not a science; often it’s a gut feeling. I wrote about it more thoroughly in the fifth of five posts, which you can find on this blog too.
Remember the randomness derives from the list running alphabetically by dealer. Today we start with M (Manneken Press) and go through Sc (Scriptum Inc.).
Here is #WestCoastPrintFair Curator's Choice, 4/5.
#prints #printmaking #printfair #curatorschoice #drawingstoo
Still pondering how to identify what makes a great print (for me, anyway), so stay tuned for that missive.
When I initially posted these selections on Facebook, I got a disgruntled comment about the presence of drawings among my selections. Hence my reminder about finding them among the group.
Regarding these West Coast Print Fair posts, please know that selections are made from what the dealers are offering. Drawings are on the table, as are paintings. Feel free to visit the fair’s web site: westcoastprintfair.com.
And please remember the randomness comes from my ordering the selections alphabetically by dealer. Today we’re starting with G (Roger Genser) and going through L (Josef Lebovic).
Here is #WestCoastPrintFair Curator's Choice, 3/5.
#prints #printmaking #printfair #curatorschoice #drawingstoo
After yesterday’s post, my friend and colleague Laura Albans challenged me to articulate what I look for in a great print. I’ve said it in drips and drabs throughout these Quarantine posts, but I will attempt to gather my thoughts in one place and post them later this week.
I’ve always had a problem remembering that not everyone thinks like I do, and it’s gotten me in trouble more than a few times. My belief in and passion about great printmaking seems so clear and obvious to me as to hardly need explanation. But, prints are tough for the layperson; the many barriers to entry mean one must really want in. I have described myself as a print evangelist numerous times: if I could get a person’s attention long enough to show prints and talk about them I could bring folks into the fold. (Good lord, “I’ll get you, my pretty” just rolled through my head!) I consider this week’s print-fair posts an amuse bouche: something to whet the appetite.
While I attempt to articulate more clearly why I love prints and what makes one great, please enjoy day two of my picks from the West Coast Print Fair. (And yes, there are drawings mixed in!)
Here is #WestCoastPrintFair Curator's Choice, 2/5.
#prints #printmaking #printfair #curatorschoice #contemporaryprintmaking #contemporaryart #woodcut #relief #colorprints #printing #womenartists #collectart #artcollector #supportlivingartists #loveart #masterprinter #art #saga #societyofamericangraphicartists #nonobjectiveart #abstractart #londonoriginalprintfair #royalacademy #ifpda #etching #engraving #monotype #screenprint #lithograph #printevangelist #baltimorecontemporaryprintfair
If you’ve been following along, you know that nothing makes me happier than going to print fairs. Obviously the global pandemic has limited all sorts of things, including a spate of fairs that occur at this time of year from Portland down to San Diego. Instead, a new online fair has been born, which went live last Friday and which will be up until February 8. If you’ve gone to the site, you’ll know it’s a cornucopia of wonderful offerings. Thanks to everyone who pulled it together—no small feat—and a special shout out to my friend and colleague #MaryWeaverChapin, curator at the #PortlandArtMuseum. Nicely done, Mary.
As I did with New York Print Week last fall, this week I’ll post some “Curator’s Choice” goodies. I tried to limit myself to two objects per dealer and ended up with one hundred prints, drawings, and a painting. For sanity’s sake, I’ll post them in groups this week, say twenty per day. Please know they are organized alphabetically by dealer, which makes for a super random order.
Today’s selections are from galleries starting with the letter A. Know that one portfolio, #PercySmith’s six etchings of World War I imagery, stunned me and I’ve included all six prints.
For ease, I've also included the prices, some of which may surprise you. See if anything piques your interest, then reach out to the dealer and make a deal.
And now, presenting #WestCoastPrintFair Curator's Choice, 1/5.
#prints #printmaking #printfair
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.