The Modern World and the Print

This series of exhibitions has been specifically compiled by the Curators at DKH as a guide to the important place print media takes in the development and history of modern art. Printmaking technology has frequently been relegated to the domain of mere reproduction by historians (including art historians and art critics) but a critical examination of printmaking demonstrates an uncanny connection with all the major art movements of modern art and the developing, urban, industrialized world. From pre-19th century Blake to Shepard Fairey today, fine art printmaking continues to have a consistent presence in the minds of artists and collectors alike. The exhibits are centered around key works in the DKH Gallery Collection that connects narrative with the actual art and is available to discerning collectors.

The first exhibit titled "Drawings on Stone" shows how new technologies in printmaking changed the dynamics of communication from the predominantly verbal to the visual, especially mass communication in the urban setting, playing an important social and political role in rapidly changing industrialized communities. Artists adept in the use of print techniques (especially in France), including stone lithography, became the new visual revolutionaries that artists and thinkers from all over the Western world would look to for inspiration and new visual ideas. 

The second exhibit titled "Printmaking and the Populace" explores the important role periodicals played as a visual window on the ever evolving metropolis. Artists, entertainers, poets and the public looked to these publications for inspiration and ideas. Some of the most innovative artists of the day, such as Steinlen, Cheret, Lunel, Toulouse-Lautrec and Mucha were regular contributors, using their skills as lithographers to mirror contemporary life, even advertising their own prints.

The third exhibit titled "Canvas is for Corporations, Paper is for People" discusses the positive reception of fine art prints among an emerging group of important collectors, the urban/industrialized class. The commercial world not only changed the response to fine art prints, but the way art was commissioned and enjoyed in a private setting away from church, museum and gallery. It also demonstrates the important role color played in the modern aesthetic and how new color printmaking technologies, in particular the invention of chromolithography changed the way that artists and viewers saw the urban world around them, from the streets to the exciting halls of popular entertainment. Ironically, the art establishment today, entrenched in received narratives about the status of "original" prints, continues to struggle with the superiority complex of oil on canvas, despite an ever increasing demand for and appreciation of media relevant to the lived contemporary experience, including digital and paper media.