‘Print Renaissance’ opens at Littleton Museum

Selection of 18 works includes works from masters of medium

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“Print Renaissance: Mid-century Masters of American Printmaking” opened at the Littleton Museum on Sept. 23 with a low-key “pARTy,” presented by the Friends of the Littleton Library/Museum.

Dan Jacobs, from the University of Denver, led gallery tours to talk about printmaking and this particular group of 18 prints, loaned by the Polly and Mark Addison Collection at the University of Colorado Art Museum in Boulder.

Jacobs reminded visitors about the collaborative nature of printmaking: four people involved, including a master printer perhaps. Or more — on one Robert Rauschenberg work, there were as many as nine people involved, with six colors, aluminum and a lithograph stone.

There is “excruciating detail,” Jacobs said.

Regarding: How do you know when you are finished? Jacobs offered a Rauschenberg quote: “It’s not what we started out to do, but it’s a good piece.”

Area art lovers had a chance to get acquainted with Rauschenberg’s work at the Museum of Outdoor Arts gallery in Englewood in recent years.

Louise Nevelson’s piece includes foil with a wrinkled surface, while Red Grooms’ whimsical “Ruckus Taxi” is a three-dimensional work, a casting with printed paper surface. Not all prints are framed wall pieces!

Fritz Scholder’s “Hopi Dancers” is a moody work from an edition of 75. His artworks are included in the Denver Art Museum’s collection and appear there frequently. As an indigenous artist, he brings some varied elements to his works.

Viewers may be more accustomed to seeing smaller traditional prints, such as etchings, where the printmaker used a sharp tool to cut an image into a copper plate, which is then inked and run through a press. Early books were sometimes illustrated with etchings, engravings or woodcuts, but these techniques are not shown in this contemporary collection.

Andy Warhol’s prints in the exhibition are made from photographic portraits — still another approach. His “Untitled” is an image of a transvestite, Jacobs noted.

There are two works with similar content by Frank Stella — a “Black Stack” and another of the same image in delicate multiple colors, which Jacobs said “blew him away.” Be sure to take an extra look — “It is said to have 41 colors — a very exacting process,” he added.

Other artists with works included in this most interesting exhibit, displayed in the Littleton Museum’s fresh, light gallery, include major contemporary names: Richard Diebenkorn, Josef Albers, Louise Nevelson, Herbert Bayer, Ronald B. Kitaj, Claes Oldenburg, Jean Charlot, Helen Frankenthaler, Jim Dine and Sam Francis.

This is really a don’t-miss opportunity for area art lovers to experience something different with works by major artists.

The exhibit run through Oct. 16 at the Littleton Museum, 6028 S. Gallup St., Littleton, 303-795-3950, littletongov.org/city-services/city-departments/museum.

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, public events frequently are canceled or rescheduled. Check with organizers before you go.

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