Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Down to Basics: Printmaking

Carroll Cloar, "The Making of a Drawing"

Printmaking is one of the oldest forms of technology to help artists produce images, with some types dating back to the 9th century. There are four main categories of printmaking: relief (woodcuts), intaglio (etching), planographic (lithography) and stencil (screen printing).

The Georgia Museum of Art presents great examples of printmaking in two current exhibitions, "The Lithographs of Carroll Cloar" and "The Prints of Mary Wallace Kirk."

The former, on view in the Boone and George-Ann Knox Gallery II, features detailed lithographs depicting a surreal perspective on the stories of people and places from Cloar's childhood, biblical narratives and popular culture.

Lithographs are a type of printmaking developed in the in 18th century based on the fact that water and oil do not mix.

The original process involved drawing an image in oil, fat or wax on a limestone plate. The plate is then treated with acid and gum arabic, which etches the portions of the stone not covered by the image. These etched areas are then wetted. As the etched areas retain the water, oil-based ink is applied. The water on the etched portions of the plate repels the oil-based ink, leaving only the drawn image covered in ink, ready for printing.

Nowadays, printmakers take the same concept of oil and water not mixing, but with a slight upgrade to the technology. Typically, modern printmakers produce lithographs by using acrylic polymer paint to draw the image on a flexible aluminum plate.

The 31 prints featured in the exhibition beautifully show the range of how the medium can contribute to the tone and style of the subject matter.

Mary Wallace Kirk, "Cabin in Shade"

Printmaking is not limited to lithographs. On July 19, the museum opened the exhibition "The Prints of Mary Wallace Kirk" in the Martha Thompson Dinos and Dorothy Alexander Roush Galleries, featuring finely detailed renderings of the countryside of the 1930s and 1940s.

Although etching as a means to decorate metal items dates back to the Middle Ages, the technology was applied to printmaking in the 15th century.

This method of printmaking involves covering a metal plate in an acid-resistant, waxy ground. The artist then takes a pointed etching needle and draws on the metal, scraping off the ground, to form the design in the now exposed metal. The printmaker then dips the metal plate into a bath of acid called an "etchant" that eats away the exposed metal, leaving deep lines. The acid and ground are then cleaned off the plate, and the artist applies ink. As the artist wipes away the ink from the plate, the deep, etched lines retain the ink and are now ready to translate the image.

Kirk studied etching at the Art Students League in New York with Harry Sternberg and ultimately produced around 80 etchings during her career.

"The Lithographs of Carroll Cloar" is on view until Aug. 10, and "The Prints of Mary Wallace Kirk" is on view until Oct. 12.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Brazilian artists use World Cup to speak out

For many, the World Cup was the perfect opportunity to celebrate one’s nation, uniting to root for the same team. For others, it was a chance to communicate with the world through art.

The street artists in Brazil took the world’s spotlight to showcase their street art and to communicate globally salient messages. From national pride to political criticism, the street art of Brazil eliminated language barriers and sparked conversation all around the world.

Here are some examples of some notable examples of Brazilian street art during the 2014 World Cup.

This mural by Paulo Ito is probably the most circulated image of street art during Brazil's World Cup. The politically charged image highlights the poverty plaguing Brazilians.

This painting by A.Signl and B.Shanti represents the burden of hosting the World Cup on Brazilian citizens. 

Many hands are shown helping to hold up Brazil and the world in this mural in Sao Paulo. 

This work by Cranio comments on the public money spent frivolously on the World Cup. 

Street artist Jambeiro refers to Brazilian soccer player Givanildo Vieira, "Hulk," in this street mural. 

To see more views of the street art in Brazil, check out this compilation on Google Maps

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Inside Look: Life of a GMOA Registrar

As spectators admire a perfectly placed work of art in the museum's galleries, they often do not think about the tedious and strategic process of shipping, handling, tracking, inspecting and installing that work.

Truth is, every one of the 10,000 works in the museum's collection has been through this meticulous, nerve-wracking process, which is skillfully and patiently coordinated by the museum's team of registrars. The registrars are an invaluable part of the museum, working behind the scenes to rotate works in and out of the galleries seamlessly, without damaging or losing track of a single one.

While some works easily fit into shipping crates, others present our registrars with a bit more of a challenge. Whether dealing with extreme fragility, enormity or odd shapes and forms, the registrars are responsible for flawlessly and efficiently moving the items across the world for our viewing pleasure.

The museum's head registrar, Tricia Miller, took the time to give me an inside look at the exciting and somewhat hectic job of registration at an art museum.

Elizabeth Poland: What exactly does a registrar of an art museum do?

Tricia Miller: A registrar for an art museum is the information and logistics specialist for the care, preservation and management of works of art in the museum, whether in the permanent collection or on loan to the museum. There are three main areas of management for a registrar:

Collections management
Overseeing the care and preservation of the works of art in the museum, from proper storage and handling to proper display. Registrars oversee and manage the environmental conditions to which works of art are exposed in order to best preserve them for future generations.
Exhibition management
Overseeing the logistics for securing and planning for all current and future exhibitions. Museum staff work on exhibitions 1-2 years in advance and the registrars manage the logistical details such as reviewing and securing loan agreements and exhibition contracts and negotiating insurance, packing and crating, and shipping for all incoming temporary exhibitions.
Information management
Overseeing the organization of and access to information about the works of art in the collection and the temporary exhibitions. The registrars office creates and maintains a research file, called a curatorial file, for each object in the museum’s collection of over 10,000 objects. We also create and maintain a file for every temporary exhibition that has been on display at the museum from 1946 to the present. The registrars office also maintains a collections database which tracks all information associated with works of art in the collection.

EP: What is the most challenging part of your job?

TM: Managing multiple and sometimes varied tasks. In one week it is possible that I will work with UGA Legal Affairs on negotiating a contract or loan agreement, discuss the restoration of a work of art with a contract conservator, talk with HVAC engineers about the temperature and humidity in the building, use a pallet jack to move a heavy object in storage, work on data entry in the collections database, meet a truck driver who is delivering a work of art and examine the condition of a 17th-century Dutch etching.

EP: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

TM: Hands-on, intimate work with the objects. When an object comes into or goes out of the museum, a registrar conducts a condition report, which is a very close examination of the object to record its condition at the time of its arrival or departure. Registrars are some of the few people in the museum who are trained and authorized to handle the works of art, so we often have the privilege of being in close contact with important works of art.

EP: What was the most interesting work you saw moved?

TM: One of the more interesting things I’ve watched being moved is a 19th-century copy of an ancient sculpture at the Uffizi Palace called "Wrestlers." It is a marble sculpture on a marble base measuring over 6 feet tall. We hired fine arts moving specialists to coordinate disassembling, palletizing and moving this large, heavy sculpture with riggers.

EP: What advice would you give to a prospective art museum registrar?

TM: Museum studies programs will give you a good basic understanding of how museums operate and then volunteer in a registrars department at a museum. Registrars can always use help with the wide variety of tasks they manage.

Monday, July 07, 2014

When New Meets Old: Lithographs and New Media Technology

This summer, the Georgia Museum of Art is featuring the exhibition "The Lithographs of Caroll Cloar" but is providing new media to juxtapose with Cloar's age-old method of printing. Two iPads are placed in the exhibition and give viewers a chance to interact with the images in a new way.

One iPad contains information about the process of lithography, including a video produced by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The second device includes an application that allows visitors to type in their own titles for the exhibition and read the titles others have suggested. This feedback opens up the lines of communication with visitors and lets their thoughts and ideas become an active part of the display.

Responses to the iPads have been extremely positive. Exhibition viewers have been forthcoming with their thoughts about their own names for Cloar's works, with responses ranging from poetic captions such as "The Haunted Pencil" and "Dreamscapes of Memory" to simpler, straight-to-the-point titles like "Old Days" and "Innocence." The spectrum of answers demonstrates how Cloar's hauntingly beautiful works evoke powerful reactions in each individual. In the past, the museum has offered a more traditional way to respond via pen and paper, but the use of the iPads is a compact and nondisruptive way to promote dialogue, not only between the museum and its guests, but among viewers.

Mixing new media technology with art is becoming a more common trend in galleries. The quick and easy access to information, combined with the ability to tailor it to the individual observer, allows for a new way to experience the art. This year, the museum has also featured other new media exhibitions such as "Machine Wall Drawing" by computer programmer and artist Tristan Perich and the work of University of Georgia master of fine arts candidate Lyndey Clayborn, who manipulated iPhones to create technology-inspired art.

"The Lithographs of Carroll Cloar" is on display through Aug. 10. For more information on the exhibition or other new media programs at the museum, visit, www.georgiamuseum.org.

Jack Youngerman: Star II

Jack Youngerman is an American artist who was born in St. Louis in 1926, then moved to Louisville shortly after with his family. He studied art at the University of North Carolina from 1944 to 1946 then later graduated from the University of Missouri. He went to Paris, where he enrolled at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts on a G.I. scholarship and ended up staying in the city for 10 years. Youngerman studied in Paris during an upsurge of modern art and was very interested in geometric abstraction. He was popular in the circle of artists and actors in Paris at the time and soon became the son-in-law of Henri Seyrig, the director of Musées de France.

When Youngerman moved back to New York, he introduced a new kind of American painting. His distinct style presents bright contrasts of color that explode on the canvas. The sharp, minimal edges and positive-negative schemes make his artwork appear contemporary even today. His earlier work was unrestricted and lacked any objective reference. His more recent work still shows this freedom and abstraction, but with more distinct imagery of bursting blossoms and birds. Youngerman’s “Star II,” on loan from a private collection, is currently displayed in the lobby of the Georgia Museum of Art and is an excellent representation of his style. He completed this painting in 1970 during his experiment with sculpture. For me, the contrast of cool and warm colors and wild shapes represent his abstraction style and the symmetry presents an image of a blossom.