The Philadelphia Museum of Art examines the print portfolio as a vital printmaking format among such major European and American artists as El Lissitzky, Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock with Out of the Box: 20th-Century Print Portfolios, on view in the Stieglitz Gallery from March 31 – June 23, 2002.
Eleven complete print portfolios from the permanent collection provide visitors with a rare opportunity to see the creative statement of each featured artist in its entirety. Some portfolios, such as Ellsworth Kelly’s Ten Lithographs (1970) and Takashi Murakami’s And Then, and then, and then, and then, and then (1999), are exhibited for the first time.
The two earliest portfolios on view, Lissitzky’s Victory Over the Sun (1923) and Man Ray’s Revolving Doors (1926), demonstrate the refined technical abilities of European print workshops that allowed the activities of painter-printmakers to flourish in the first part of the century.
The print portfolio format was employed by such major American artists as Jackson Pollock, whose entire Portfolio of Six Prints (1951) is shown in the Museum for the first time in the exhibition. The format truly took hold in the United States after the late 1950s, when professional print workshops such as Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE) and Tamarind Lithography Workshop opened. Painters, sculptors, and conceptual artists, many with no previous printmaking experience, were able to work closely with master printers in well-equipped shops for concentrated periods of time. The exhibition includes portfolios of lithographs, screenprints, and etchings from this later period by Richter, Warhol, Barbara Kruger, and Brice Marden.
“Print portfolios are sets of prints usually housed together in custom-made boxes or ribbon-tied folders,” said exhibition organizer Laura Groves, The Margaret R. Mainwaring Curatorial Fellow in the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. “While individual works from portfolios can sometimes stand alone, most often the meaning of a print is greatly enhanced when seen in the context of the whole.”
Housing some 140,000 works of art, the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is nationally recognized for the breadth and depth of its collections as well as the flair and scholarship of its exhibitions. The Department presents rotating installations of its vast holdings in the Berman and Stieglitz Galleries on the Museum’s ground floor and the Eglin Gallery on the first floor. Individual works are also on view in the Museum’s permanent collection galleries.