Los Angeles

“American Prints Today—1962”

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The consistent high caliber of work that marked the first multiple print exhibition of the Print Council of America three years ago is maintained in this, its second effort. The careful consideration given to the selection of works led the Print Council to abandon its earlier plan for a proportioned geographical representation of artists in favor of one based purely on excellence. The fifty-five prints, representing forty-eight artists, allow for a comparative study of printmaking today. The experimental fervor that characterized the beginnings of a kind of renaissance in printmaking a few years ago, and threatened to turn the art into one of technical trickery, seems to have been brought into check. There are even those, such as James McGarrell, who dare to use the medium purely as a test of draughtsmanship. On the other hand, where experimental methods have been expanded, it has been done more often in support of the image than in mere technical display. There is indeed an unique immediacy given the image by the plaster engraving of Arthur Deshaies; there is the ultimate of classical restraint in the inkless intaglio of Josef Albers; there is an actual confrontation of dualities when Michael Ponce de Leon involves the photoengraving in the color collage intaglio, Heritage. There are many more. Related is the increased interest shown in subject matter and the noticeable decrease of pure abstraction. At times, as in Ben Shahn’s serigraph Blind Botanist, the object is the vehicle for the philosophical commentary of the artist’s “personal realism.” In contrast, Reginald Pollack’s Actor: Profile has the simplicity and directness of a Vuillard. There are the angry young Americans, the existential-related spokesmen, and those whose interests are purely visual. Lastly, although a good portion of the work depends largely on the richness of black and white, a full exploration of color is inevitable. The subtle tonalities of the lithographs of George Miyasaki are ballads in color, but the most memorable of all are the oranges and magentas, the red-violets and blue-greens of Carol Summers’ Aetna’s Dream. The exhibition should certainly stimulate public interest. Credit should be given to Larry Curry, Research Assistant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, for the installation.

Constance Perkins