Monday, June 29, 2015

Additional Measures Taken in Assemblage of El Taller de Gráfica Popular Exhibition

Todd Rivers installs wall vinyl next to Arturo García Bustos’ poster.

El Taller de Gráfica Popular, also known as the TGP, is a Mexico City-based print workshop, founded in the 1930s, that focused on Mexican and global issues in its heyday. From linoleum prints to woodcuts, the TGP created hundreds of pieces that brought political issues to the Mexican people.

Through September 13, the Georgia Museum of Art presents a collection of nearly 250 posters, flyers, fine prints and other works on paper produced by the TGP. Such a large exhibition (taking up seven galleries) as well as the fragility of the works, many of which were created for ephemeral purposes, required special measures in the matting and framing process as well as the exhibition design.

Todd Rivers, chief preparator at the museum, explained: “A lot was involved in framing the 205 works for this exhibition [that are hung on the wall; others are installed in cases]. Each piece was a different size and needed to be framed and matted accordingly.”

Works of art in exhibitions at the museum are normally matted and framed to fit predetermined stock frames, but four of these works needed custom frame sizes due to unusual dimensions.

One of these, the largest work in the collection, created by printmaker Arturo García Bustos in two pieces and joined, required special attention. Due to its size, the preparators could not mat it by hinging the front and back mats. Instead, the mat package was sandwiched, so as not to damage the tissue-paper-thin material. Rivers also hand cut the extra-large mat. Moving the matted work into the frame required many sets of hands, to keep it level and stable, and the process of actually framing it took about four hours, much longer than usual.

Rivers designed the exhibition as his thesis project for his master of fine arts degree, with a concentration in interior design, from UGA, and he considered framing methods and their aesthetic appeal extensively. To highlight the works of art instead of overwhelming them, he chose blond wooden frames with beige mats so as to mimic the yellowed paper of the works.

Rivers also selected wall colors to reflect the subject matter of the exhibition. Anti-Nazi and anti-Fascist works inspired a brown used in some galleries, drawn from the colors of Nazi and Fascist uniforms. Red symbolizes Communism, which the workshop supported. Even the shapes that serve as backdrops convey meaning. A red wedge in the background represents how communistic ideals wedged their way into nations all over the world.

The matting, framing and color schemes all aim to complement the works of the TGP and the messages they conveyed. With so many different images in the exhibition, these elements of design aim to help the visitor leave the exhibition with a better sense of what the TGP is and the issues for which it stood.

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