This preview first appeared in Art New England, September/October 2015.
Pablo Picasso believed that art has no past or future; when considering work of bygone times, he mused that “perhaps it is more alive today that it ever was.” These words resonate at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking (CCP), which has staged an electrifying exhibition to celebrate their double-decade anniversary this fall. 20th Retrospective: Highlights from the Past Twenty Years honors CCP’s history, vision, and the significance of printmaking around the world, savoring the legacy of their past while looking ahead to an exciting future. And the art pulses with relevance and vitality.
20th Retrospective received funding from the International Fine Print Dealers Association and is curated by a team of CCP printmakers, master printers, gallerists, and staff. Exhibited in the Grace Ross Shanley Gallery—an homage to CCP’s founder—are images from artists of national and international reputations. Printmakers showcased have been integral to the Center’s history: Helen Frankenthaler, Donald Sultan, Michael Mazur, Howardena Pindell, Robert Andrew Parker, Robert Cottingham, and Emily Mason, among others. Many have printed at CCP’s presses. This good company is joined by gems from the CCP collection, works donated to the Center featuring artists as diverse as Rufino Tamayo, Robert Bechtle, Manual Neri, and Stanley William Hayter, often considered the most influential printmaker of the early twentieth century.
The prints are iconic and bold. Two of Sultan’s still lifes are on view; his screen printed poppies glow in flame and saffron, pierced by unblinking black centers. Pond Edge V (2007), a stunning work by Mazur, incorporates etching, aquatint, woodcut and silkscreen. It’s a graceful scene from an artist who so often depicted suffering, where warm light falls on water as still as green glass; you can almost smell the grassy marsh at dusk. And the singular translucence of Frankenthaler’s printmaking is well represented with works on loan from the foundation in her name.
See this show for rich colors, distinctive mark making, and museum quality art that speaks to the passion of masters. Some of these artists have passed but their works are as alive as ever, and the same goes for the Center where so many have come for inspiration over the years. Here’s to twenty more.
Center for Contemporary Printmaking, Norwalk, CT
September 12–December 13, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 12, 2:00–5:00pm