The works in the exhibition have been roughly divided into two sections. The first takes a broad look at the history of printmaking in the region from the turn of the century until the turn of the seventies. Anchored by the works of Charles E. Burchfield, Julius John Lankes, and the collaboration of these two artists, we see the tradition of the adaptation of drawing into carving of the relief medium and the accompanying graphic strength that results from the transfer of ink from the block to the paper. In these works the solidity of form and strength of light livens the scenes. Amos W. Sangster shows a similar tradition of calibration of the drawn mark to copper plate through etching and a myriad of intaglio processes in use for centuries. The work of Kevin O'Callahan, Carlo Nisita, Jean MacKay Henrich, and a whole host of artists that comprised the Buffalo Print Club are amply represented and show prominently the dominance of relief and intaglio during this group's existence from 1931 to 1962. Lithographs, probably offering the appearance most related to direct drawing of all the print media, are represented by fewer but strong examples, such as Summer Benediction by Charles Burchfield, Breakfast at Timberline by George William Eggers, and Arthur Lindberg's untitled lithograph.
The works take a noted historical stance, and exhibit the collective interest of the artists in drawing as well as print media. The result is a personal, social, and philosophical depiction of America.
The second section of the exhibition shows the changes in aesthetic brought about by post- World War II artists. Certainly ties to tradition remain, exploited by such artists as Frank Eckmair, Harvey Breverman, Lee Bergwall, and Paul Martin, among others. Their depictions are informed by a hind-sighted relationship to the history of figuration in printmaking. But from the sixties and certainly solidly from the seventies on, a central importance of the medium itself is asserted. Relief, intaglio and lithography continue to be used, but in more of the works a strong overt reference to the process itself is seen. Photomechanical process comes into prominence, as shown by works by Robert Longo and Steve Miller. Screen-printing gains favor for its ability to strengthen flat surfaces with rich deposits of ink, as seen in works by Richard Gubernick, James Pappas, Robert Squeri, and Robert Lax. Monoprints by Jackie Felix and Yoonsook Ryang are representative of one-off usages of the processes. Reference to the paper itself and papermaking processes, and mixed usage of the processes come into favor as well. Most currently, the digital explosion has resulted in the lines between traditional prints, photography, and even the definition of the print being blurred. Works by Peer Bode, AP Gorny, Christy Rupp, Joe Scheer, Hollis Frampton and Gary Nickard are examples of these developments.
In the Burchfield-Penney Art Center print collection from about 1970 on, a contemporary stance is exhibited, and the result is a process-oriented and explosive investigatory expose of art in America.
So let us all "think ink" and whether via block, plate, stone, screen, mixed or even digital means, we can revel in the kiss of the ink to the paper, and the wonderful emotions and visions that kiss brings to light.
About the Burchfield-Penney Art Center
The Burchfield-Penney Art Center is a museum dedicated to the art and vision of Charles E. Burchfield and distinguished artists of Buffalo Niagara and Western New York State. Through its affiliation with Buffalo State College, the museum encourages learning and celebrates our richly creative and diverse community. For more information, call (716) 878-6011 or visit www.burchfield-penney.org.
The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students and $3 for children and is free for students, faculty and staff of Buffalo State College and members of the Burchfield-Penney.