September 28, 2008 – January 18, 2009
This fall the Blanton Museum of Art will present The New York Graphic Workshop: 1964 – 1970, the first comprehensive presentation of a crucial, yet little-known episode in the history of American and Latin American Conceptual art. The Blanton is recognized as a leader in the scholarship and presentation of Latin American art, and building on the museum’s 2007 exhibition, The Geometry of Hope, this exhibition further explores the contributions of Latin American artists to the modern and contemporary art historical narrative.
On view September 28, 2008 to January 18, 2009, the exhibition of over 70 works examines the Conceptualist movement of the 1960s and ’70s through the printmaking practices of the New York Graphic Workshop (NYGW). Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, exhibition curator, Director of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and former Curator of Latin American Art at the Blanton Museum of Art states, “The New York Graphic Workshop represents a key moment in the history of both American and Latin American Conceptual art, yet this is the first comprehensive exhibition of the group since it disbanded in the early 1970s. The exhibition will provide a unique opportunity to understand the important contributions of this group of artists, and their pivotal role in the history of art of the 1960s in New York. It will also be the first time many of these artworks have been shown in over three decades.”
The show also serves as a Latin American counterpart to Reimagining Space, an exhibition focusing on the Park Place Gallery Group in 1960s New York, also on view at the Blanton September 28, 2008 – January 18, 2009. Like the NYGW, the Park Place artist group was tremendously influential, but has been largely overlooked in the chronicles of art history.
Founded in 1965 by three young Latin American artists in New York — Luis Camnitzer, José Guillermo Castillo, and Liliana Porter—the group’s mission was to redefine the practice of printmaking, focusing on its mechanical and repetitive nature as opposed to its traditional techniques and aesthetics. Moreover, the group employed radical printmaking practices — printing, for example, on the side of a ream of paper — exploring the idea of what actually constitutes a print. The NYGW examined the ideas and conceptual meaning behind printmaking, and sought to utilize the medium in both alternative and accessible ways. As stated in the artists’ first manifesto, “The printing industry prints on bottles, boxes, electronic circuits, etc. Printmakers, however, continue to make prints with the same elements used by [Albrecht] Dürer. The act of printing in editions, the act of publishing, is more important than the work carried out on a printing plate.”
In the 1960s, The New York Graphic Workshop established a cooperative space that promoted an exchange of ideas between artists and served as a collective center for professional printmakers to teach, exhibit and experiment. One of the most interesting aspects of the NYGW was its unusual printmaking practices, and means of presenting new artworks—holding exhibitions by mail, distributing a cookie as a multiple, exhibiting in a safe deposit box on 57th Street and announcing a non-existent exhibition as part of Information, a show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970.
Showcasing over 70 prints, drawings and mixed media works, The New York Graphic Workshop: 1964 – 1970, will examine the philosophies of the group’s founders and explore the theoretical possibilities of printmaking through examples by Camnitzer, Castillo and Porter, along with leading contemporary artists of the period — Jorge de la Vega, Max Neuhaus, José Luis Cuevas and Salvador Dalí — whose works were produced by the Workshop on the artists’ behalf. On view in the Blanton’s Butler Gallery on the first floor, the exhibition design and installation will reflect the mission of the NYGW.
The New York Graphic Workshop: 1964 – 1970 is organized by the Blanton Museum of Art. Funding for the exhibition is provided by Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and Jeanne and Michael Klein. Additional support is provided by the Alcoa Foundation. The exhibition is curated by Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, and Ursula Davila-Villa, interim curator of Latin American Art at the Blanton.
About the Artists
Luis Camnitzer was born in Lübeck, Germany in 1937 and immigrated to Uruguay in 1939 with his family. He studied at the School of Fine Arts of the University of Uruguay, graduating with a degree in sculpture and architecture. In 1957, he received a grant from the German government allowing him to study sculpture and printmaking at the Academy of Munich. Camnitzer moved to the United States in 1964, where he currently lives and works. He has been a professor of art at the State University of New York in Old Westbury, New York since 1969 and regularly contributes articles to various publications. Since the early 1960s, Camnitzer’s works have been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, Latin America and Europe.
José Guillermo Castillo was born in Venezuela in 1938. He moved to New York as a commissioner for the Venezuelan pavilion at the World Fair in 1964. He studied economics and art in London. He participated in the New York Graphic Workshop (New York) along with Liliana Porter and Luis Camnitzer during his stay in the U.S. He was literary advisor to the center for inter-American relationships (now the Americas Society), and he was instrumental in the creation of the Latin American literary boom in the United States. He returned to Caracas in 1973 and died in 1999.
Liliana Porter was born in Buenos Aires and has resided in New York since 1964. She studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as well as the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. Her artwork includes printmaking, painting, installations, photography, video and public art projects. Her works have been shown internationally and are represented in many collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1994, she completed a permanent public artwork for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA): four terracotta mosaic murals that are installed in the New York subway system in the 50th Street Station, lines 1–9. Liliana received numerous prizes and grants including the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1980 and three Visual Art grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). She works as Professor of Art at Queens College, the City University of New York.