Visually evocative prints and related artwork are featured in an exhibition that explores American artists’ innovative and unconventional printmaking techniques in the years during and just after World War II. “Evolving Ideas: Midcentury Printmakers Explore Process” opens Oct. 2 in the Chandler Wing of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art and continues through Jan. 3, 2011. The exhibition is drawn from recent acquisitions and gifts to The Huntington and from the print collection of Hannah S. Kully, which is a promised gift to the institution.
Approximately two dozen works will be displayed, all of them making their Huntington debut. Many of the objects show the influence of European surrealism as well as a desire to experiment with process that resulted from printmakers’ experience working in the collaborative creative environment of the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. Sue Fuller (1914–2006), for example, pressed an old lace collar into a prepared etching plate to create the basis for a dynamic, modernist bird in Hen (1945). Fuller, along with the five other artists represented in the exhibition, pursued strategies of abstraction while retaining vestiges of recognizable subject matter. Several of the printmakers also investigated the power of color to enliven their work. Finished prints will be shown with preliminary drawings, early states, or impressions of the same print interpreted in different colors, providing insight into artists’ evolving ideas about printmaking at midcentury.