“Poets, Painters, and Paper” explores the American rintmaking renaissance of the 1960s-1970s by bringing together broadsides and prints from poets and artists as diverse as William Everson, LeRoi Jones, Lee Krasner, and Andy Warhol. Although Stanley Hayter relocated his famous studio, Atelier 17, from Paris to New York in 1940, it was not until the late 1950s and early 1960s when United Limited Arts Editions and Tamarind Lithography Workshop, as well small publishers like City Lights Books and Oyez Press, opened their doors that artists and poets found the collaborative and creative atmosphere needed to produce a more accessible, affordable, and democratic form of artistic expression.
The artworks presented in “Poets, Painters, and Paper” are the products of a turbulent social and political time in America—a time rife with racial and gender inequality, growing anti-war sentiment, and, hovering over it all like a mushroom cloud, the constant threat of nuclear annihilation. For avant-garde artists and poets alike, this was a time for breaking down the rigid barriers between high and low art, a time for collaborative imagination, and thus a time to break down the myth of the solitary (and hyper-masculine) artist-genius as perpetuated by images of Jackson Pollock in the popular press. It was also a time of creative cross-over, when the relationships between text and image were once again ardently explored with the fervor of earlier Modernist experimentation.
“Poets, Painters, and Paper” highlights one of America’s most fertile moments of literary and artistic collaboration by exploring how these prints and broadsides fit into the larger cultural and artistic context of the times. Many questions remain open for discussion, though, such as what role the printmakers played in the meaning-making of the artworks, what role artists played in the meaning-making of the poems, what the artworks’ ephemeral nature says about them as cultural artifacts, and what our interest in them today says about contemporary modes of artistic production and reception.
The exhibit is made possible in part by an Intramural Research and Creative Endeavors grant from Midwestern State University’s Office of Sponsored Programs & Research.
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