Moving from the 20th to the 21st century has had a potent impact on the art of our time. Many artists working today have embraced the new millennium as an era when traditional boundaries between disciplines are more fluid than ever before. With works on paper, this is particularly apparent, as many artists are using drawing, printmaking, collage, and other paper-based methods as an arena for remarkable innovation. The Walker Art Center has a long history of collecting and exhibiting works on paper, which comprise a significant portion of its collection.
Paper Trail: A Decade of Acquisitions
, on view March 15 (from 5–9 pm)–September 23, features a broad selection of prints and drawings collected over the past 10 years that addresses in myriad ways the means by which contemporary artists have explored notions of time, place, and narrative through the intimacy of paper.
The practice of drawing has continued to be more broadly defined, with artists employing everything from pen and ink to elaborately layered, multimedia compositions to large-scale environments. Increasingly, artists are using these media in their work, not merely as an end in itself, but often in tandem with other techniques as a vehicle by which to create conceptual works and installations. Over the past decade, printmaking, too, has seen an expansion of interest, with many artists well-versed in traditional methods such as etching, lithography, screenprint, and woodcut turning to less conventional approaches and opening a remarkable range of aesthetic possibilities.
In Paper Trail, this spirit of experimentation is seen in works such as Glenn Ligon’s Untitled (Crowd/The Fire Next Time) (2000), a screenprint made from coal crystals; Gabriel Orozco’s Polvo Imprezo (2002), a group of etchings made from dust laid on printing plates; and DeLuxe (2005), a portfolio of prints by Ellen Gallagher that incorporates such unconventional materials as Plasticine, glitter, and magazine cut-outs to create mural-scaled tableaux that examine social and historical issues related to race and gender. Many artists in the exhibition have grouped their work in portfolios and series, which often creates a powerful sense of storytelling, as seen in a series by Rachel Whiteread, whose photolithographs of London buildings undergoing demolition form a potent story of a constantly evolving urban landscape. Other works on view utilize found images or materials to comment on global culture, as seen in a series of drawings on newspapers by Japanese artist Kaoru Arima; or Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn’s collaged constructions of news magazine images, plastic, tape, and ballpoint pen.
Many of the works included in the exhibition are new to the Walker collection and have never before been exhibited. Works by a number of artists represented are on view concurrently in other Walker galleries, affording visitors the opportunity to examine their diverse activities across media and through time.
The Walker’s holdings of works on paper, which have been steadily acquired since the 1960s, comprise more than half of the collection. A hallmark of the collection has been an emphasis on in-depth bodies of work by artists with whom the Walker has had long-term relationships, such as Jasper Johns and Robert Motherwell, who are represented by complete print archives; as well as artists including Ellsworth Kelly, Helen Frankenthaler, Claes Oldenburg, Sigmar Polke, Edward Ruscha, Frank Stella, Joan Mitchell, Sol LeWitt, and others whose works on paper have entered the collection from the outset of their careers. In addition, the Walker houses a complete archive of over 2,000 prints from the preeminent American print workshop Tyler Graphics, Ltd., which in its years of operation (1974–2000) produced significant projects with some of America’s best-known contemporary artists. Since the 1970s, the Walker has also periodically published editions with contemporary artists, some of which will be included in the exhibition.
Opening Night/Target Free Thursday Nights
Opening-Night Gallery Talk
Thursday, March 15, 7 pm, Free
Meet in Target Gallery
The Walker’s exhibition of works on paper acquired in the last decade illustrates the diversity of approaches contemporary printmakers are taking with their work. Many artists well-versed in traditional methods such as etching, lithography, screenprint, and woodcut are opening a remarkable range of aesthetic possibilities with materials such as coal crystals, dust, glitter, and plastic. Join exhibition curator Siri Engberg for a tour of works that address the state of printmaking today.
Target Free Thursday Nights
Thursdays, May 10 and 17
Art Lab Activity: Zine Printing Workshop
Star Tribune Foundation Art Lab, 6–9 pm
Artists in the exhibition have found innovative ways to narrate experience through their works on paper. Using these works as inspiration, take part in this inventive zine-making art lab taught by local printmaker Aaron Johnson-Ortiz that focuses on how printmaking is both political and artistic. Carve printing blocks and use stencils to construct your own unique narrative on paper.
Thursday, June 7
Panel Discussion: Making, Collecting, and Exhibiting Works on Paper
Cinema, 7 pm
In an era where the traditional boundaries between artistic disciplines are increasingly fluid, artists are using print media to expand ideas. Experimental works made from processes such as screen printing with coal crystals and etching into dust on printing plate display not only technical curiosity, but conceptual innovation. What are the issues involved with collecting, making, and exhibiting works on paper in the 21st century? In conjunction with the exhibition, a panel of artists, collectors, and curators discusses trends in contemporary printmaking and ways that artists are pushing traditional practices into new forms. Moderated by exhibition curator Siri Engberg.
Target Free Thursday Nights sponsored by Target.
Additional support provided by the Institute for Museum and Library Services.
The Contemporary Printmaker
Wednesdays, April 11, 18, 25, 6–7:30 pm
$60 ($30 Walker members)
Etching, lithography, woodcuts, and monoprints—printmaking in all its forms has always been a medium integral to the artist’s process and invaluable for experimentation. This class includes a lecture on recent developments in printmaking, demonstrations at Highpoint Center for Printmaking, and a tour of Paper Trail with exhibition curator Siri Engberg. Taught by Carla McGrath and Cole Rogers, both of Highpoint, and Natasha Pestich, printmaker and professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
All tours free with gallery admission; Free First Saturday and Thursday night tours are free.
Thursday, March 29, 6 pm
Saturday, March 31, 12 noon
Thursday, April 12, 6 pm
Sunday, April 15, 12 noon
Friday, April 20, 6 pm
Friday, April 27, 1 pm
Friday, May 4, 1 pm
Friday, May 11, 6 pm
Friday, May 18, 1 pm
Saturday, May 26, 12 noon
Friday, June 1, 6 pm
Saturday, June 9, 12 noon
Friday, June 15, 1 pm
Sunday, June 17, 12 noon