08 November 2009

New York Print Fair 2009

Wow, I've made two trips to New York in 9 days. Not bad for a woman who used to be terrified of the place. Maybe it was my trip to Tokyo in 2005 that cured me of my city phobia. Whatever the cure, I'm becoming quite enamored of the Big Apple.

On Saturday I took the annual Smith College Museum of Art members' bus trip to NY for the IFPDA Print Fair for the third year in a row. It was well attended and I saw a lot of interesting and inspiring work.

One of the first booths I stopped at was The Art of Japan. This duo from Washington specializes in Japanese woodblock prints and they had a mind-boggling collection of my favorite genre, sosaku hanga (the self-carved and self-printed work created in early 20th century Japan). Handling works by the likes of Masao Maeda (above), Koshiro Onchi, and Umetaro Azechi literally brought tears to my eyes, as I've studied their work online and in books ever since I started making prints. I was amazed at how sloppy the great Onchi's prints appeared, with so much ink in the margins. I sat with the prints for a long time, and I'm sure I wore out my welcome, as I couldn't afford to buy any of the pieces I really wanted.

There are a few big contract printer/ publishers that I always visit, and one of them is San Francisco based Crown Point Press. This year the Crown Point piece that stood out to me was Back to the Land by Swedish artist Jockum Nordström, best known for his collage work. The primitive, mysterious and vaguely historic feeling in his prints appeals to me. I found a YouTube video interview with Nordström about his work at Crown Point here.

One artist whose work always stops me in my tracks is Chinese artist Hung Liu. A painter, Liu has also worked extensively making prints with both Paulson Press and Shark's Ink. The piece above is a piece she made at Paulson Press called Stove.

Hirschl & Adler Galleries always has work by Arthur Wesley Dow (left), Blanche Lazzell and Gustave Bauman.  I spent a long time standing in their booth mentally spending several tens of thousands of US dollars.

Another really standout display was a group of maybe 8 or 10 color woodcuts by Wassily Kandinsky shown by Chicago's Worthington Gallery. I had no idea that Kandinsky had done so many woodcuts. The piece to the right, called Three Riders in Red, Blue and Black, was my favorite.

And maybe the most fantastic thing I saw at the Fair was a woodblock print scroll by Chinese artist Yun-Fei Ji called Three Gorges Dam Migration at Carolina Nitsch Contemporary Art. This ten-foot-long horizontal image, hand-printed in China from over 500 hand-carved blocks of pearwood, depicts the flooding and social upheaval caused by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. It's almost impossible to fathom how this work -- a collaboration between MOMA, the artist, and a Beijing woodblock printing workshop called Rongbaozhai -- was printed. It's stunning to behold.

Detail from Three Gorges Dam Migration.

It was a great Fair, and I've only scratched the surface of what I saw. It was crowded the whole time I was there, and there appeared to be a lot of money changing hands, so based on this one experience I'd have to speculate that reports about the death of the art market are overblown, at least for the print market. Yay prints!


Sharri said...

Thank you for allowing me to go to NYC vicariously. That scroll must have been totally mind blowing.

Carole Baker said...

Thank you for sharing your trip and all the wonderful links.