Saturday, May 28, 2016

Lots and lots of prints

Where: National Gallery of Art

When: through July 24, 2016

It's been a while since I've blogged - between the bad weather here in the DC area and some very busy days at work, I've not been to a museum since I went with my friend to the Renwick.  Yesterday, however, I made up for my exhibit drought by swimming in shows - three to be exact, the first of which was this one at the National Gallery.

As part of their 75th anniversary celebration, the Gallery has put together this large show of selections from their print collection.  It's arranged in chronological order (my favorite kind of order), which allows you to see the various uses to which prints have been put.  In the earliest ones on display (from the American colonial period), it's not art per se that we're looking at, but depictions of current events.  Think of them as an early version of a news magazine - the Time of their day.

By the late 1800s, prints had turned from news sources to the artistic expressions we know today.  They have not lost their political overtones, however.  Two of my favorites pieces on display were a linocut by Elizabeth Catlett, an artist I encountered for the first time at the African Art Museum not long ago and whom I like very much, entitled Untitled (Harriet Tubman) and a color offset lithograph by the Guerilla Girls collective entitled Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?

The Catlett piece shows a powerful and commanding Tubman - strong and fearless.  The Guerilla Girls offering questions the Metropolitan's small number of modern artworks by female artists, while noting the large percentage of works featuring nude women.  Both pieces challenge the status quo as regards women.  Women are not merely objects; they are a force to be reckoned with.  Both pieces demand the viewer take notice.

Verdict: If you like prints, have a look at this show - the scope is broad enough that there's something for everyone.

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