Abstract art flourished in the United States and Europe during the second half of the 20th century, and in recent decades, it continues to be a fundamental catalyst in the development of contemporary art. For the past 60 years, artists have worked to expand what it means to create images without direct reference to the natural, visible world, focusing on line, color, and shape alone. To test the possibilities, some gravitated toward the reductive extremes of minimal, monochromatic compositions, while others achieved intense perceptual effects with complex patterns and bold hues. Printmaking, which offers an expansive range of outcomes—from the crisp, mechanical contours of screenprint to aquatint’s atmospheric shifts of tone—have served these artists’ goals with exceptional results.
Drawing on the Museum’s collection of abstract prints and multiples, Printing Abstraction considers various strategies, from Op art to hard-edge abstraction and beyond, that have emerged over the past six decades. The exhibition presents works from more than 20 artists, including figures who defined the field, such as Anni Albers, Marcel Duchamp, and Ad Reinhardt. Works by artists from more recent generations, like McArthur Binion and James Turrell, speak to the continuing relevance of abstraction today.
Printing Abstraction is curated by Gretchen L. Wagner, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, and complements the main exhibition Graphic Revolution: American Prints 1960 to Now, which is open from November 11 through February 3, 2019.