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Now everyone is an insider!

In order to provide an open forum for ALL of the museum’s collection and activities, the Paper + People blog is being renamed SCMA Insider. With its expanded focus, SCMA Insider will act as a go-to place for sharing information on the diverse collections and many voices and visions that shape SCMA.

If you want to contribute to the blog, please contact the Brown Post-Baccalaureate Curatorial Fellow, Shanice Bailey, at

  • Monday, September 30, 2019

    Defiant Vision | Q&A: Proofs vs. Finished Work

    In this series, Aprile Gallant, Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs answers visitor questions about the SCMA exhibition Defiant Vision: Prints & Poetry by Munio Makuuchi. Visit the exhibition to pose a question in the comment book, then check the book and SCMA Insider for the answers! 

    Question #2:
    I noticed the majority of prints say either “1st proof,” “2nd proof,” “artist proof (A/P)” or “studio proof (S/P).” 
    Does this mean they are not the final version? Are they of less value?

    Thanks for your question!

    Yes—anything marked as a “proof” is usually considered part of the artist’s process, and may have been made before the artist considered the work “finished”

    BUT. . .

    The fact that Makuuchi signed most of these works seems to suggest that he thought they were finished enough to put his name on. 
    Also—Makuuchi rarely made full editions (i.e. printing a number of copies of the “finished” work) so most of his works only exist in “proof” states. 
    Generally, there is no difference in the market value (i.e. price) for a proof—in fact, if there are few of them, they might be considered “rare” and cost more. 

    Do you think the aesthetic value of a proof or unfinished work is less than a finished work? If so, why?

  • Tuesday, September 3, 2019

    Questions and Answers from Defiant Vision: Prints & Poetry by Munio Makuuchi

    In this series, Aprile Gallant, Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs answers visitor questions about the SCMA exhibition Defiant Vision: Prints & Poetry by Munio Makuuchi. Visit the exhibition to pose a question in the comment book, then check the book and SCMA Insider for the answers! Our first question explores Makuuchi's selective use of color in his work.

    Question #1: Why are all the pictures in black, gray, and white?


    Great question!

    I wish the artist was here to answer that—it’s clear that working in black and white was important to his message. I think it may have been because he worked primarily with lines and he liked to contrast between black and white.

    Look at the few color works in the show—how are they different? Do they strike you visually in different ways?

    Whispers, Cries, Howls in a Doll’s House, ca. 1972–75. ©The Estate of Munio Makuuchi

    Often, printing in color is more complicated. If you look at the work called Moon Catchers you can get a sense of this—that work was created with a separate plate for each color, so making the plates and printing the final work was an intricate process. This is one of the only full-color pieces in the exhibition.

    Moon Catchers, 1999. ©The Estate of Munio Makuuchi

    I suspect that Makuuchi liked the immediate, spontaneous, and direct expression of black lines on white paper.

    What do you think?

  • Tuesday, May 14, 2019

    Honoring Kurt Lang (January 25, 1924 — May 1, 2019)

    All of us at SCMA were very saddened by the passing of donor and scholar Kurt Lang on May 1, 2019. In 2014, Kurt and his late wife, Gladys Engel Lang, donated their extensive collection of over 1400 prints, drawings, and paintings to the museum. This collection was developed during the research for their co-authored book Etched in Memory: The Building and Survival of Artist Reputation (1990). Examples from this important gift have been featured in exhibitions in the Museum over the past five years, most recently in No Man’s Land: Prints from the Front Lines of WWI.

    In addition to being a highly-respected scholar, Kurt was a remarkable person with an intriguing history. Born in 1924, he lived in Berlin, Germany, for his first twelve years before immigrating to the U.S. with his family. Kurt grew up in the shadow of the Great War. His father served as a medical officer in the German army and as a child Kurt heard harrowing tales of the war and read many accounts of these momentous events. 

    Both he and Gladys played important roles in the American war effort during the Second World War. Gladys worked at the Office of War Information in Washington, D.C., while Kurt served in the U.S. Army and shared his expertise to counter-intelligence operations, including the de-Nazification programs following the war. The fascinating story of Kurt’s experiences during the war and their impact upon his career were highlighted in an Atlantic article in 2017.

    His perspective on the war spurred him to study the military and political propaganda and the effects of Television on politics in 1947. These interests ultimately resulted in a PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago. It was during his studies that he met Gladys.

    Kurt Lang in the 1940s while he was home on leave from U.S. Army basic training during World II

    In the early 1950s, the Lang’s began their prodigious careers as collaborators. Together they authored the ground-breaking study “The Unique Perspective of Television and Its Effect: A Pilot Study,” in which they documented how television coverage shapes and effects how viewers understand and react to current events. Their collaboration would continue for decades to follow and led to Etched in Memory: The Building and Survival of Artistic Reputation. This study focused on the painter-etcher movement from the 1860s through World War II, as they sought to understand why some artists are remembered while others languish in obscurity.

    Kurt in conversation with photographer Shellburne Thurber during the opening of No Man’s Land: Prints from the Front Lines of WWI

    Kurt was generous with his expertise and his time. As curator of the No Man’s Land Exhibition I personally got to work with him during the preparations of the show, and it was his deep knowledge of the collection that helped me formulate its thesis. I will remember fondly the unique experience of his participation in the study session on the Lang Collection with Smith faculty. It was equally auspicious that he was able and willing to formally introduce the opening of the No Man’s Land exhibition and offer his perspective on the prints in the gallery.

    Kurt during the Lang collection study session with Smith faculty, 4/18/2017.

    The unique selection of prints Kurt and Gladys collected over the years bear witness to their life’s vision. Prints created during the 1930s from the Lang Collection will be included in an exhibition on the American Depression which will open at SCMA in November 2019. Kurt provided helpful insights for this show as well. These two exhibitions demonstrate the breadth of the resource represented by the Lang Collection. I am sad that this time neither of Kurt nor Gladys will be with us to see the show come to fruition, but gratified to see that their legacy will continue to be preserved at SCMA.

    Gladys and Kurt in the Cunningham Center, 2015.