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Commentary: Exhibitions of works on paper show a wide range of materials and techniques as well as the creativity and imagination of the artists


As you can see, works on paper encompass a wide range of materials and technique, but the creativity and imaginations of the artists, put "the icing on the cake."

I was thumbing through invitations to gallery and museum exhibitions that I had saved and noticed that Philip Slein of the Philip Slein Gallery had recently had a large group show of works on paper featuring works of all sizes by both nationally known and local artists. The works featured both abstract and figurative works.

I started thinking of what kinds of works would be included in the "works on paper" category and did a little research.

Brigham Young University had a past exhibition of works on paper and photography and the description of the exhibition said, "Of the 18,000 works in the museum collection, the majority of works on paper are various forms of prints, drawings and photographs. The works on paper in the collection include excellent examples by masters in the print medium such as Durer, Daumier, Rembrandt and famous Japanese woodblock artists.

The Louisiana State Museum described works on paper in their collection as drawings, prints, newspaper illustrations, silhouettes, watercolors and pastels, postcards and posters.

The LewAllen Galleries in Sante Fe, New Mexico recently featured an exhibition entitled "Fritz Scholder: Works on Paper." Scholder (1937-2005) was a pivotal figure in American art history credited with reimagining the portrayal of indigenous people in contemporary art. Moving away from the traditional, romanticized stereotypes that had dominated previously in American art, Scholder instead applied the visual languages of German Expressionism and Pop Art to convey the contemporary reality of indigenous people.

The gallery described these works on paper, "This exhibition highlights the wide scope of Scholder's works on paper, including drawings, collages and paintings on paper, as well as examples of his contributions to printmaking in lithography, serigraphy, linocut, monotype, etching and aquatint. His boldness as an artist is in full focus in his works on paper, which allowed him the opportunity to experiment with subject matter, composition and process independently from his paintings on canvas."

The Toledo Museum of Art has one of the best kept secrets. The works on paper collection includes nearly 13,000 prints, drawings, photographs and artists books.

Recently, the Saint Louis Art Museum showed the exhibition “Impressionism and Beyond," an exhibition of postimpressionism on paper. The exhibition focused on the paths towards modernity opened up by Impressionism. Artists such as Degas, Cassatt and Renoir also drew with pastels, pen and ink and experimented with lithographs.

In fact, it is the period between about 1885 and 1905 that was of most interest in the exhibition. The museum’s press release noted that, "Mary Cassatt elevated color printmaking to new heights through her adaptation of the Japanese aesthetic that was taking Paris by storm in the 1890s, while her impressionist colleague Edgar Degas sought multiple avenues for experimentation in print. Degas and other impressionists also developed inventive drawing styles that allowed them to capture movement and intense effects of color and light in their works."

And, I found an article about the curation of PaperWest - 2nd National Works on Paper from 2019 which took place at the University of Utah. The juror, Judith Brodsky, said she was delighted to be the juror and that it was an exhilarating experience. She stated, "The high quality of the work submitted and broad variety of technique and content was at first overwhelming. The question was how to develop a coherent exhibition from such a diverse group of works. After a while, the works fell into groups--woodcut landscapes, surreal collages, a surprisingly set of mezzotints, some beautiful charcoal drawings, a large number of mixed media, and a collection of artist's books. While many works were based on photographic material, there were only a few straight photographs."

Nancy Kranzberg has been involved in the arts community for more than forty years on numerous arts related boards

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