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The 64th Relief Prints: 27th Exhibition of Prints from the Tyler Graphics Archive Collection

September 13, 2014 - December 23, 2014

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Woodblock prints--an art form generated by carving incisions into a wooden slab, yielding an uneven surface, applying ink to its protruding elements, and then printing the result--are the method of printmaking most familiar to the Japanese, known to them from famous ukiyo-e and from their art and arts & crafts classes at school. Woodblock prints, along with linocuts, metalcuts and other techniques that apply ink to the protrusions of a matrix, are collectively known as "relief prints"

Woodblock printing, which was invented in China, is the world's oldest printmaking technique, examples tracing at least as far back as the 9th century. In the 14th century the technique spread to Europe, and although its popularity in the West was later superseded by more recent innovations such as copperplate prints and lithographs, a great number of outstanding woodblock prints continued to appear: by Albrecht Dürer during the Renaissance and, in modern times, by artists including Paul Gauguin and Wassily Kandinsky. Woodblock prints both Eastern and Western also proceeded to develop under mutual influences flowing in both directions, Japan's ukiyo-e prints being greeted with great surprise in Europe during the 19th century, and the woodblock prints of Edvard Munch and the German Expressionists influencing the sōsaku-hanga ("creative prints") movement that began in Japan in the late Meiji Period.

With the coming of the 20th century, the expressive potential of relief printing became even richer as the principles of woodblock printing were adopted in linocuts--which use linoleum, a building material, in lieu of wood --and metalcuts, in which uneven surfaces are crafted not only by carving but also by etching. Today too, through the activities of individual artists as well as printmaking studios, innovative works continue to be produced that push the presumed limits of printmaking techniques to new horizons.

This exhibition will display relief prints by leading American contemporary artists gleaned from CCGA's Tyler Graphic Archive Collection. From the bright and robust still-life woodcuts of Ed Baynard to the delicately colored works of Helen Frankenthaler applying traditional Japanese water-based woodblock print techniques, to the bold and dynamic abstract metalcuts of Frank Stella, a cornucopia of artistic expression will be on display. We hope the exhibition will serve as an opportunity for rediscovering the appeal of the printmaking techniques closest to the hearts of the Japanese people.