Featuring works by artists from Albrecht Dürer to Ed Ruscha, this exhibition examines the relationship between word and image in prints over the course of more than 500 years, from the Renaissance to today. Comprised of nearly 70 works, the exhibition is assembled from the permanent collection of the Portland Art Museum
and local private collections.
The exhibition focuses on four groups of works, beginning with late 15th- and 16th-century prints, which tend to convey clear messages with a close correlation of text and image. This section includes a page from the renowned Nuremberg Chronicle, the most lavishly illustrated book of the late 15th century.
Prints of the 17th and 18th centuries often present ambiguous messages, particularly in commentaries about society, as in works by by Francisco de Goya and Cornelis Dusart.
With the emergence of Pop art in the mid 20th century, prints drew from everyday subject matter, common objects, and consumer culture, as in Andy Warhols large-scale renditions of S&H Green Stamps, Robert Rosenquists layered corporate logos, and Roy Lichtensteins comic-book style portrayals of melodramatic or violent subjects.
From the late 20th century to the present, artists have explored language as a subject, used text in conceptual or paradoxical ways, and explored social concerns. In Ed Ruschas Drops, from 1971, the letters in the word drops are formed illusionistically with drops of water. Bruce Naumans Eat Death, a lithograph of 1973, evokes disturbing associations, and Edgar Heap of Birds 2006 monotype series addresses issues relating to indigenous peoples of North America.
Other artists represented in the exhibition include Odilon Redon, Käthe Kollwitz, Georges Braque, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jenny Holzer.