Paper + People is a blog about the Smith College Museum of Art’s collection of over 18,000 prints, drawings, and photographs. Here you will find a diverse array of posts written by museum staff, students, scholars, and other paper enthusiasts about anything pertaining to the collection.
Any works you see featured here are available to view by appointment.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Lesley Dill, American (1950 - ). The Poetic Body: Poem Dress of Circulation, 1992. Lithograph, letterpress and collage on Japanese silk tissue mounted on paper. Gift of Rita Rich Fraad (Rita Rich, class of 1937) and Janice Carlson Oresman (Janice Carlson, class of 1955). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1992:47d
"Words are an intervening armor between ourselves and the world. I think of words and especially the poems of Emily Dickinson (for their embodiment of psychological
states of despair and euphoria) as a kind of spiritual armor,
an intervening skin between ourselves and the world"
As those of us who live here know, the Pioneer Valley has a rich history. In Amherst you can visit the home of Emily Dickinson, where the poet lived much of her life as a recluse, and penned over one thousand poems. While she kept her works private during her lifetime, sharing them only with close friends and mentors, she is now recognized as one of the most influential and vital American poets.
After a friend lent Leslie Dill a book of Emily Dickinson's poetry, the artist became fixated on the poet's spare, emotional lines. In the artist’s words: Dickinson's works "hit me like a bullet … I feel her words are basically blood to me." Now, Lesley Dill takes the poems of Emily Dickinson and makes them tangible through her art.
Lesley Dill, American (1950 - ). The Poetic Body: Poem Eyes, 1992. Lithograph, letterpress and collage on Japanese silk tissue mounted on paper. Gift of Rita Rich Fraad (Rita Rich, class of 1937) and Janice Carlson Oresman (Janice Carlson, class of 1955). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1992:47a
The Poetic Body, a series of four works by Dill, lets us see and read Dickinson’s poems with new eyes. Each piece is a delicate collage of different papers, tissues and sometimes thread. Dill first began to create works in paper while she lived in India in the early 1990s, in part because it was more transportable than her earlier pieces in wood. Soon, however, she began to imbue the material with a deeper meaning, seeing paper as a symbol for humanity, fragile and malleable and strong all at once.
Lesley Dill, American (1950 - ). The Poetic Body: Poem Gloves, 1992. Letterpress, thread and collage on Japanese silk tissue mounted on paper. Gift of Rita Rich Fraad (Rita Rich, class of 1937) and Janice Carlson Oresman (Janice Carlson, class of 1955). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1992:47b
Detail of The Poetic Body: Poem Gloves
Paper endows a definite tactile quality to The Poetic Body series. Instead of pasting each element completely flat, Dill billowed and draped the pieces over each other, creating a varied landscape on the page. Colors are muted. The lines of poetry from Emily Dickinson are fragmented and woven into the works, and form part of an inseparable whole.
Lesley Dill, American (1950 - The Poetic Body: Poem Ears, 1992. Lithograph, letterpress and collage on Japanese silk tissue mounted on paper. Gift of Rita Rich Fraad (Rita Rich, class of 1937) and Janice Carlson Oresman (Janice Carlson, class of 1955). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1992:47c
Monday, March 31, 2014
Student Picks is a SCMA program in which Smith students organize their own one-day art show using our collection of works on paper. This month’s student curator and guest blogger Marion Gajonera ’14 discusses her show “Mother and Child” which will be on view THIS FRIDAY, April 4 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. We hope to see you here!
Munio Takahashi Makuuchi, American (1934 - 2000). Fairgrounds Called Camp Harmony, no date. Etching, drypoint and roulette printed in black on heavyweight, moderately textured, cream-colored paper. Gift of Jamie Makuuchi. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2012:63-8
While the theme of Madonna and Child is indeed familiar to many of us for its religious connotations, it should not be over-looked for its portrayal of the love and devotion between a mother and her child. Given the universality of motherhood, this exhibition explores the theme of “Mother and Child” across time and cultures.
Willi Hartung, Swiss (1912-1987). Southern Landscape with Mother and Child, 1959. Watercolor on paper. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Max Seltzer (Selma Pelonsky, class of 1919). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1990:5-21
From the beginning, I specifically chose to include as many works by people of color to juxtapose them with the more conventional representations of motherhood encountered in Western art such as in the Renaissance. In this way, I was able to include the wide-ranging narratives of poverty and oppression.
Yet I also wanted to challenge the notion of what can constitute a “Mother and Child” image. In Jerome Liebling’s Mother, Baby’s Hand, Mexico, we only see a close-up view of the mother’s hand and the baby’s arm instead of their whole figures. Lin Tianmiao’s contemporary lithograph, Focus I B, is an image without a mother, although its only figure—a baby—appears to reflect back their mother’s loving gaze.
Jerome Liebling, American (1924-2011). Mother, Baby's Hand, Mexico; from Photographs, negative 1974; print 1976. Gelatin silver print. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1988:16-10
The icon of Madonna and Child is one that I encountered frequently while growing up in the Philippines. Working on this exhibition has been incredibly exciting and rewarding since I was able to combine my interests in art, women and gender, and the experiences of people of color. Thank you so much to Maggie Kurkoski for her support during the development of this exhibition. To the Cunningham Center and the Smith College Museum of Art, thank you for this unforgettable opportunity. And lastly, to my mother who has always supported me, I love you.
Lin Tianmiao, Chinese (1961 - ). Focus I B, 2006-2007. Lithograph printed in black on STPI handmade paper with embedded thread. Gift of Friedman Benda LLC. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2013:76-4
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Roy Lichtenstein. American, 1923-1997. Ship-board Girl,1965. Offset lithograph on paper. Gift of George Cohen. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1975:60.
Following a long tradition of artists who beg, borrow, and steal elements from other artists, Roy Lichtenstein was a master of creating art about art stemming from both so-called “high” and “low” culture. While he is most famous for his 1960s Pop paintings and prints which appropriate comic strip imagery such as Ship-board Girl (pictured above), he also created a vast body of work which both reference and transform images by other artists. In 1962, only one year following his first comic strip images, Lichtenstein painted pastiches based on works by Cézanne, Picasso, and Mondrian. In 1969, his appropriation (or what he often called “vulgarization”) of other artists’ work continued with his two print series Cathedrals and Haystacks, based on the iconic paintings by French Impressionist Claude Monet. (Click to see examples of Monet’s Cathedrals and Haystacks)
Roy Lichtenstein. American, 1923-1997. Cathedral #6,1969. Lithograph printed in blue and black on special Arjomari paper. Gift of Naomi and Stephen Antonakos. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2002:25-1.
Roy Lichtenstein. American, 1923-1997. Cathedral #3,1969. Lithograph printed in blue on special Arjomari paper. Gift of John Russell. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1976:43-5.
Lichtenstein’s Cathedrals and Haystacks are immediately recognizable to those familiar with Monet’s Rouen Cathedral and Giverny haystacks paintings from the 1890s, yet these prints are remarkably abstracted and peculiar. As in his comic strip images, the broad areas of color imitate Ben-Day dots, a technique used in newspaper commercial printing in which blocks of colors are broken down into tiny dots. Lichtenstein enlarges these dots so much that the images are difficult to see clearly. Similarly to Monet’s paintings, these prints are most legible at a distance and increasingly abstract the closer one gets to the image. Such close looking reveals Lichtenstein’s intricate and dazzling system of Ben-Day dots which are overlaid to create darker tones (see details).
Details of Ben-Day dots in Haystack #6(left) and Haystack #1(right).
Left to right: Roy Lichtenstein’s Cathedral #3, Cathedral #6, and Cathedral #2 (1969).
Lichtenstein’s complex use of color in his Cathedrals and Haystrackscreate even more confusing visual effects. While he adheres to a simple palette of colors – red, blue, yellow, and black – they are dizzying when combined in each image. For example, in Cathedral #2 (above), the combination of red and blue dots renders the image almost entirely illegible. In these prints, Lichtenstein reduces Monet’s nuanced and varied studies of light to incredibly flat reproductions of paintings, nothing more. Surprisingly, however, they still evoke the visual sensation of distinct times of day as in Monet’s original paintings. In Cathderal #3 (above), blue dots on white paper read as dusk, while in Cathedral #6(below) the combination of blue and black reads as late evening or night. Red and black dots in Haystack #6 create the impression of dusk on a warm summer evening, while in Haystack #1 yellow on white paper evokes the blinding sunlight of high noon.
Roy Lichtenstein. American, 1923-1997. Haystack #6, 1969. Lithograph in red and black on Rives BFK paper. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1972:5-5.
Roy Lichtenstein. American, 1923-1997. Haystack #1,1969. Lithograph and screenprint in two colors on Rives BFK paper. Gift of Janice Carlson Oresman, class of 1955. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1986:55-3.