Miranda France previews an enlightening exhibition
5 ofAmerican Screenprints
l l l l
i at the Hunterian Art
Like photomontagc (see feature) screenprinting is very much an
artform ofthis century. and similarly '
one that has a foot in both commercial and aesthetic camps. It is always a popular medium among artists— after all. they can sell the
. same pictures several times over — Q and with punters. who are attracted
as much by the low prices as the bold 3
colours and appealing simple figurative subjects. While John Heartfield exploited
l photomontagc for its commercial
potential. screenprinting started in
: the commercial world and was
. kidnapped for art. Guy Maccoy was
‘ the kidnappcr. as he later explained
: in a letter to Carl Zigrosser. print
5 enthusiast and director ofthe Wehye
Gallery in New York. In 1932
Maccoy had helped a friend to
i hand-paint several hundred sweet
boxes at very short notice. They hit on the idea of screenprinting as a time-saving solution.
; Simultaneously the Weyhe Gallery
1 was showing coloured stencils by
: Braque. Picasso and other French
1 artists. ‘The prints were very good and they thrilled us very much. but
the stencil had certain limitations
which caused the artist to do a
certain amount of handiwork which
i varied in each print slightly. The
silkscreen method seemed like a
I better way to make a coloured print.‘ . Maccoy tried it out in his own art.
The only trouble was the name. Screenprinting had been used by artists before. but only as a way of mass-producing cheap lounge bar images. the 1920s equivalent of
. today's corny wildlife poster. ‘Screenprint' had bad associations. so Zigrosser thought up the word
‘serigraph‘ (derived from the Latin for ‘silk' and ‘write'). In the mid-30s various American
artists took up the new medium. most notably l larry Sternberg. 'l'heir quality was decidedly mixed — critic Paul Richard has described them as ‘oil paintings in which something is slightly wrong'. The better ones didn‘t try to imitate paint. but exploited the medium's ability to produce fresh. bold images which still retained a commercial. or
industrial sheen. Some ofthese show 5
workers making hay. banging away in a foundry. or rabble-rousing. Ben Shahn’s Prenatal ( 'linit' has two women sitting under a poster which reads ‘I)o I deserve prenatal care‘.". Hugo (iellert‘s Winning the Ban/e of Production is obviously inspired by Soviet Socialist Realism. while Sister Mary (‘orita specialised in religious posters and billboards.
In the 1950s Jackson Pollock experimented with screenprinting.
Ploy Lichtenstein: Sweet Dreams. Baby!, 1965
and in the oils Andy Warhol was the first person to use it in paintings. ()ne of the many .‘llari/yns he produced in 1962 is included in the Hunterian exhibition. He. too. was attracted by the industrial aspect of the medium: he liked its ‘assembly-line effect .'
Along with Roy Lichtenstein's comic strip prints. Warhol’s .‘vlari/yns have become the icons of the medium. and they never seem to age. Perhaps it is because of their immediacy or their political undertones that even the (ill-year old
. scrccnprints stillseem‘modern‘.
American .Sit‘ri'cnprinlsfrom I/It’
( 'ollt’r‘tion ofReha and Dave Williams. can hesccn alt/1c Hunterian Ari Gal/cry. Glasgow, 3!) Jan—l 7xipl'
A travelling exhibition of art created by handicapped people from the twelve EC memberstates, Project 12 is an important exhibition, not least because of the challenge it throws down to the traditional representation of work produced by artists with disabilities.
It was brought together by CREAHM
(Creativity and Mental Handicap). a ' Belgian organisation founded in 1978
which aims to promote artistic
g expression for children and adults with '
mental disabilities. According to Luc Boulange, the Director of CREAHM, Project 12 is concerned with
highlighting the works of individual artists ratherthan just presenting a collection of paintings made by handicapped people. Boulange maintains that the venture is not a ‘rag-bag exhibition brought together for charity in an unconvincing way‘ but an attempt to ‘upset the status quo by at last acknowledging the artists as “true” artists‘.
Featuring 178 works by 58 artists, Project 12 is notable for its diversity: submissions range from intimate studies in wood pulp from the Portuguese Crinabel Workshop to an almost disarming use of mixed media in the sculptural creations of the Luxembourg-based Wiltz Cooperations. Bold, colourful
figurative work dominates the show, however, and among the most notable exponents in this genre are the Scottish artists represented, all of whom are students of Project Ability, the Glasgow-based organisation which works to improve opportunities for disabled people to develop their own artistic skills.
Project 12, made possible by the support of IBM Europe, may be just the first of many similiarcollaboralion projects which seek to promote the work of disabled artists and to question our strongly-held preconceptions. (Caroline Ednie)
Project 12 is at the Art Gallery and Museum. Kelvingrove, and Project Ability until 21 Feb.
The List 29January— l 1 February 1003 53
V IN THE FRAME
Mungo Campell, author of a new catalogue of the National Gallery's Turner collection, talks about two of the
I’ve chosen the two Abbotsford watercolours, Rhymer’s Glen and Chiefswood Cottage. We’re unusually lucky in that we have marvellous descriptions of the events behind the two drawings. Both are almost allegorical scenes from near Walter Scott’s home, Abbotsford. In Rhymer’s Glen you can see the bench, with Scott’s stick resting against it and his papers on the ground. Both the illustrations were finished after Scott’s death in 1832, and the unoccupied bench is in part a tribute to the continued influence of his writing on Turner’s own perceptions of the landscape.
In Chiefswood Cottage his chair is empty for the same reason. In the background is the summer cottage of John Gibson Lockhart, Scott's biographer and his wife Charlotte Sophia, Scott’s daughter. The unoccupied writing desk in the sun, facing the empty chair, is possibly a reference to Lockhart’s projected Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, the first volume of which was published in 1836.
What makes these illustrations so personal is that they are closely related to real events and real conversations. Turner’s determination to sketch the Glen in the company of Scott's daughters alter a good dinner at Chiefswood Cottage - during which there was ‘a good deal of fun and jaw’ — is recounted in the full notes of the artist’s visit to Abbotsford kept by his publisher Cadell. These are now in the archive of the National Library of Scouand.
Scott and Turner were never close friends and theirs was a business relationship. When James Skene approached Sir Walter Scott for an introduction to Turner to produce a watercolour of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, Scott replied that although ‘a sketch of the Bell Rock from so masterly a pencil would indeed be a treasure’, the artist would ‘do nothing without cash and anything for it.‘ (MF) Turner’s watercolours are exhibited at the National Gallery of Scotland every year, during the month of January.