Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1996-1997 index

Distributed July 25, 1996
Contact: Linda Mahdesian

Prints that go Pop

Bell Gallery presents British prints from the Steinberg Collection

The David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University will present British Prints from the Steinberg Collection from Aug. 24 through Oct. 6, 1996. The exhibition, focusing on prints from the 1960s and 1970s, includes such artists as David Hockney, Henry Moore and Richard Smith.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- As its first show of the 1996-97 season, the David Winton Bell Gallery will present British Prints from the Steinberg Collection from Aug. 24 through Oct. 6, 1996. The exhibition is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Richard S. Field, curator of prints, drawings and photographs at the Yale University Art Gallery, will give a lecture at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, in the List Art Center Auditorium, 64 College St. A reception will follow in the gallery from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

Focusing on prints from the 1960s and 1970s, the exhibition is drawn largely from a collection of more than 350 modern British prints given to the Bell Gallery in 1980 by New York financier Saul P. Steinberg. More than 70 works will be on display. The show includes such artists as David Hockney, Henry Moore and Richard Smith - whose names are widely known on both sides of the Atlantic - as well as such important but less familiar figures as Peter Caulfield and Tom Phillips. Complementing the works in the Steinberg collection are other gifts of British art, including prints by Barbara Hepworth, Allen Jones and Patrick Procktor, donated by Howard Karshan and Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Rigelhaupt.

Background on printmakers

During the early post-World War II years, Stanley William Hayter and the sculptor Henry Moore were among the best-known British-born printmakers. Hayter was an expatriate. Active in Paris as an early member of the Surrealist group, he established the famous experimental print workshop Atelier 17. One of the most influential of all 20th-century printmakers, Hayter laid the foundation for much of the abstract work that followed in England, Europe and the United States. Moore used printmaking to expand upon the themes of his sculpture, favoring figural subjects. Some artists, such as Hayter and Moore, were involved with European traditions going back to Picasso, Braque, Leger, Kandinsky and the Futurists. Others were active within the new idiom of Pop art, which had developed in England and the United States in the mid-1950s.

The term "Pop art" was coined by British artist Lawrence Alloway to refer to the incorporation of the artifacts of popular culture - movies, advertising, comic strips and science fiction - into high art. Eduardo Paolozzi (a member of the Independent Group, the original British Pop artists) and Peter Phillips were particularly interested in American mass culture. Paolozzi's Erni and T.T. at St. Louis Airport combines photographically-derived images of stuffed animals and psychedelic patterns, all rendered in garish and metallic colors. Phillips' Collection includes 42 World War II-era pinups, complete with such coy sayings as "Sure...Show me a diamond and I'll play ball." Both works by Paolozzi and Phillips are included in the Bell Gallery show.

Another print in the show, Interior: Evening, exemplifies Patrick Caulfield's distinctive style. He draws his subjects - interiors, vases, still lifes and, in this instance, a lampshade near a window - in bold and inexpressive black outlines on large areas of bright, unmodulated color.

The adoption of processes previously used only for commercial printing was central to British printmaking of the 1960s and '70s. Screenprinting was particularly suitable for Pop art because it produced sharp edges and flat, dense color. The development of the screenprint also eliminated restrictions on the size of prints, which grew to the size of commercial posters. Several artists in the show, including Paolozzi, Caulfield and Nicholas Monro, worked with commercial printers to accomplish these effects.

In contrast to the screenprint with its impersonal color scheme and large size, the artists of the '60s and '70s also created books - works intended to be held and examined closely and intimately. Books by several artists, including Hayter, John Christie, John Furnival and Caulfield, are on display in the exhibition.