Highlights of the Peter Blum Edition Archive
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
December 23, 2011 through February 20, 2012
Highlights of the Peter Blum Edition Archive, opening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) December 23, 2011, will present a focused selection of The Peter Blum Edition Archive, a landmark MFAH acquisition encompassing all of the prints, books, and related preparatory materials Peter Blum had released from 1981 through June 1994.
Blum, a New York print publisher who collaborates with leading contemporary European and American artists, is considered to have the best eye of his generation. The 1996 acquisition of over 1,500 objects was spearheaded by Barry Walker, the recently retired MFAH Curator of Prints and Drawings, who originally displayed the collection in the 2006 exhibition Singular Multiples: The Peter Blum Edition Archive, 1980-1994.
The Peter Blum Edition Archive contains 44 finished projects by 23 artists, and Highlights of the Peter Blum Edition Archive will present 7 of the collection’s most famous portfolios along with their related preparatory materials. These portfolios will be double- and triple-hung to lend the gallery space an intimate, salon-like quality. The works will be on view through February 20, 2012 in the Cameron Foundation Gallery of the Audrey Jones Beck Building, 5601 Main Street.
Eric Fischl’s renowned Year of the Drowned Dog is a composite of six color prints that, when combined, operate as a pictorial game with a complex narrative. The first component is a triptych of a Caribbean beach panorama and the second consists of three separate smaller sheets (mother and child observing the dog of the title, three sailors and a walking man) that overlap the panorama. Accompanying the final work will be trial proofs of the boy with the dog, showing how Fischl experimented with the curvature of the boy’s back and, later, the inks and color balance.
A portfolio of 10 color woodcuts by figurative painter Alex Katz , from the Tremor in the Morning (1986) series, will be on view. These works are woodblock prints based on paintings of couples that the artist created in the 1970s.
A suite of nine photolithographs by Barbara Kruger, Untitled (We will no longer be seen and not heard) (1985), were created by the artist when Blum offered her the chance to collaborate with leading lithographer Maurice Sanchéz. Kruger had never made prints before but this portfolio, like Kruger’s other work, is a feminist commentary. Each print includes a found image paired with a word and, when viewed together, forms the sentence, “We will no longer be seen and not heard.”
Four severely formal geometric abstractions comprise Meltdown (1989), by Sherrie Levine, from the series Afters. To create the color woodblock prints, Levine scanned photographs of paintings by Mondrian, Kirchner, Monet and Duchamp into a computer, reduced the pixilation, divided the images into rectangular grids and averaged the colors of the grids’ squares.
Brice Marden’s portfolio of 25 intaglio sheets, Etchings to Rexroth (1986), was created when Blum invited the artist to make a print portfolio. Printer Jennifer Melby helped inspire the artist to work from his twig-and-ink sketches, applying sugarlift aquatint and etching techniques to emphasize texture.
David Rabinowitch’s Birth of Constructivism – Sequence for Vertov I – VII (1993) is a suite of seven intaglio prints that celebrates the industrial world by featuring mechanized dancing shapes. Each print can stand alone but together they create a storyboard. Proofs of III will accompany the portfolio, revealing Rabinowitch’s process as he made an impression of the key plate and conceived of the circle-within-circle design.
Finally, a portfolio of five works by Terry Winters, Furrows (1989), will also be on view. Winters worked with printer and paper-maker François LaFranca to make his first-ever woodblock prints, using Japanese calligraphy tools to carve designs based on human anatomy. He printed these onto wood with a design emphasis on the wood grain patterns.
Also on view in the Millennium Corridor of the Audrey Jones Beck Building (near Café Express) through March 20, 2012 is a new Peter Blum Edition, Reconstructions. In Reconstructions, Huma Bhabha draws colossal figures, feet, and other forms over photographs of landscapes littered with abandoned foundations that she took in her native Pakistan, and then translated the images into prints. The portfolio references figurative connections to the landscape, ancient structures, religion, time, and decay. This recent acquisition extends the MFAH’s Peter Blum Edition Archive and exemplifies Blum’s exacting standards for the master print.