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June 4th, 2012
Exhibition Celebrates 40th Anniversary of The Brandywine Workshop and Gift to the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Full Spectrum: Prints from the Brandywine Workshop
 (September 7–November 25, 2012)

Philadelphia, PA In 2009, Philadelphia’s renowned Brandywine Workshop donated 100 prints by 89 artists to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in memory of the Museum’s late director, Anne d’Harnoncourt. This year, the Workshop celebrates its 40th anniversary as a center dedicated to the creation of prints and to broadening their appreciation. Working with local artists, hosting visiting artist residencies, and offering a wide array of educational programming, the Workshop actively engages diverse artists and communities. To honor the Workshop’s generous gift, the Museum is presenting the exhibition Full Spectrum: Prints from the Brandywine Workshop.  It includes more than 50 prints, among them works by John Biggers, Edgar Heap of Birds, Mei-ling Hom, Ibrahim Miranda, and Howardena Pindell.

“The Brandywine Workshop’s achievements over four decades, so richly represented in the generous gift it has made to the Museum, offer eloquent testimony to the Workshop’s longstanding commitment to the medium of printmaking and the many communities it serves,” says Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “The prints selected from this gift exemplify the Workshop’s dedication to encouraging many different artistic voices and printmaking practices.”  

Representing the broad range of the artists who have produced work at the Brandywine Workshop, Full Spectrum will feature prints by African and African American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, Latino, Caribbean, and Native American artists. Cultural identity, political and social issues, portraiture, and landscape, as well as patterning and pure abstraction, are just some of the many concerns explored in their prints, underscoring the breadth of the workshop’s stylistic and conceptual reach.

Promise Land (1985) by Willie Birch captures different aspects of daily life on the street of an urban African-American neighborhood. In Telling Many Magpies, Telling Black Wolf, Telling Hachivi  (1989), Edgar Heap of Birds confronts the stereotyping and appropriation of Native American culture and property. Betye Saar explores religious, spiritual, and mystical symbolism in Mystic Sky with Self Portrait (1992), while her daughter Alison Saar, inspired by an old blues song, portrays a languid woman longing for her lover in Black Snake Blues (1994). Other highlights include the collaged abstraction Harlem Nights (1993) by the painter Sam Gilliam; Jacob Landau’s surrealist figural composition, Brandywine Impression (34th Psalm) (1988); Wucius Wong’s atmospheric landsape, Towards Enlightenment B (Green), (1991); Vuyile Voyiya’s air-borne dancers in his Blissfull Swing III (2007); and a self-portrait, Isaiah (1986), by Philadelphia-based Isaiah Zagar who has created numerous public mosaic murals within the city.

Many of the artists represented in the exhibition have roots in Philadelphia, in keeping with the Workshop’s commitment to local as well as visiting artists. James Brantley, Moe Brooker, Barbara Chase-Riboud, James Dupree, and Barkley Hendricks are all Philadelphia natives, while Danny Alvarez and Mei-Ling Hom have all studied, taught, or currently teach at Philadelphia colleges and universities.

“The range of the artists who have produced screenprints, offset lithographs, and other prints at the Workshop, and the variety of their stylistic approaches and artistic concerns, speak to the collaborative nature of the Workshop and its mission to serve as a technical facilitator of the artist’s ideas, encouraging experimentation,” notes Shelley Langdale, the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings who is organizing the exhibition at the Museum.

Philadelphia artist Allan Edmunds founded The Brandywine Workshop in 1972. The vitality and impact of the Workshop are evident in its expansion from initial programs instructing professional artists and students in advanced printmaking skills in the early 1970s to a wide range of educational programs (including mural and video projects), artist residencies and exchanges, national and international traveling exhibitions, and the assemblage of a remarkable collection of prints over four decades. The permanent collection includes works donated by printmaker Robert Blackburn’s estate and gifts from the Billops-Hatch Collection, as well as prints made at the Workshop, and is used for teaching and as well as inspiration for artists working on the premises. Additionally, as a result of outreach to art communities around the country and service to artists, educators, and collectors, the Workshop is supported by formalized chapters of the Friends of the Brandywine in Washington, D.C. and New York.

“As our national outreach and presence continue to grow, it is essential that we remain an established and evolving part of Philadelphia’s historic arts community, while continuing to inform the rest of the country of the city’s role in contemporary art and printmaking,” comments Edmunds. “It is a great honor for the Workshop’s prints to become a part of the Museum’s outstanding collection and a thrill for a selection to be on view in this exhibition.”  

The Workshop’s gift to the Museum will be illustrated in its entirety in an accompanying catalogue, published by the Museum in association with Yale University Press. The catalogue will include an essay by Philadelphia native and noted contemporary print scholar Ruth Fine, former Curator of Special Projects in Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (80 pages, 110 color and 20 black and white illus., ISBN: 978-0-87633-237-5, Price: $18.00, Publication Date: September 1, 2012)

A wide variety of public programs will be offered in conjunction with Full Spectrum. For budding printmakers of all ages, on October 7, the Museum’s Family Studio will be devoted to the art form. The Museum’s Art After 5 Friday night series will host a Philadelphia-themed dance party on September 28 as well as a November 16 performance by artist John Dowell and his Visual Music Ensemble, which utilizes Dowell’s works on paper as music scores. On October 12, Bernard Young, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Art Education, Arizona State University, and former Philadelphia School District student and graduate of the Tyler School of Art —and one of the early Brandywine Workshop artists—will present a lecture on art, culture, and ethnicity. A lecture followed by a panel discussion on the role of collaboration and community in the printmaking workshop will be held on October 28.  In keeping with the Workshop’s emphasis on education, two teacher workshops will be held: a preview on May 12 and an artist panel discussion and tour of the Workshop on October 6. A full schedule of programs with additional details will be available on the Museum’s website.

The exhibition is funded in part by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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