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Variation in Print

American Graphic Art

Hauptbau, Zwischengeschoss / 30.04.–28.08.2022 / Curator: Judith Rauser

Concurrently with Brice Marden. Inner Space, a special presentation of American fine art prints by Barnett Newman, Sam Francis, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Frank Stella, and Brice Marden at the Hauptbau turns the spotlight on the so-called “graphic boom”: beginning in the 1960s, prominent American artists eagerly explored the potentials and challenges of printmaking. The exhibition features a diverse selection of prints by American artists, including works that are rarely on public view.

Brice Marden: Cold Mountain Series, Zen Studies, Kunstmuseum Basel, Kupferstichkabinett, Foto: Jonas Hänggi, ©2022, ProLitteris, Zurich

Brice Marden: Cold Mountain Series, Zen Studies, Kunstmuseum Basel, Kupferstichkabinett, Foto: Jonas Hänggi, ©2022, ProLitteris, Zurich

Starting in the 1960s, they became so intensively involved with the medium that this phenomenon has been described as the "Print Renaissance" and the "Graphic Boom. The medial and technical peculiarities of print provide stimuli that become central to their artistic concept. These include, for example, serial repetition, the use of found motifs, and the division of the idea and execution of the print among several participants. The fact that printmaking allows a large number of copies to be produced is understood as a great advantage - and not as a characteristic that relativizes the value of the print.
The selected prints show a range from simple line to calligraphic opulence, from strict form to moving gesture, from black-and-white reduction to exuberant color, and are thus signs of the constant variation and experimentation in the art of printing.

Sam Francis, Coldest Stone, 1960, Kunstmuseum Basel, Foto: Jonas Hänggi, © Sam Francis Foundation, California / 2022, Pro Litteris, Zurich

Sam Francis, Coldest Stone, 1960, Kunstmuseum Basel, Foto: Jonas Hänggi, © Sam Francis Foundation, California / 2022, Pro Litteris, Zurich

Drawing and Painting
In the mid-’60s Brice Marden emerged with panel paintings of sensuous color and drawings informed by strong emotions. With time, the large-format multipart paintings evolved into complex engagements with surface and color that may be read as landscapes and architectures. His painterly and graphic practices are guided by an interest in lines, gestures, and the limitation to simple means and materials. Early on, Marden indicated that his drawings warrant appreciation in their own right and invited beholders to think of his drawings “as spaces,” emphasizing his belief that drawing is a medium that not only exists in more than two dimensions but is capable of reflecting the spirit and experi ence of a particular place.