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Multiplicity: Prints and Multiples Opens at Art Gallery of South Australia
Toni Robertson, The Royal Nuclear Show, 1981, screenprint, printed in colour from multiple stencils, plate size: 77.5 x 51.5 cm, sheet size: 82.5 x 58 cm. Museum of Contemporary Art, gift of Julie Ewington, [SID 17724] 2006. © the artist. Photograph: Jenni Carter.

ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA.- Some of the biggest names in mid-late 20th century international and Australian art will be on show at the Art Gallery of South Australia from 17 October, in Multiplicity: Prints and Multiples, an exhibition that explores the development of prints and multiples from the 1960s to the current day, tracking the rise of an art form that lies at the core of contemporary art practice.

Drawing on the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and the University of Wollongong, Multiplicity offers visitors the chance to see the evolution of this influential medium across four decades, from its emergence out of the pop art and conceptual art movements of the 1950s and 1960s.

“Until the 1960s prints and multiples had primarily been viewed as an adjunct activity to the more ‘important’ mediums such as painting and sculpture. However following the development of conceptual art in the 1960s - and the experimentation with process and institutional critique that came with it – there was a major shift in this hierarchy,” explains Multiplicity curator Glenn Barkley from the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The diversity of approaches to prints and multiples is evident in the range of works on display by some of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century. Multiplicity features Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein prints, ‘ready-mades’ by Joseph Beuys, limited editions by Ed Ruscha and Jenny Holzer, politically charged prints by Redback Graphix, works by International collectives Fluxus and General Idea, and more recent work by Australian artists David Noonan, Deborah Kelly, Fiona Hall and Ricky Swallow.

Coordinating the exhibition display in Adelaide is Maria Zagala, the Art Gallery of South Australia’s Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs, who comments “Multiplicity is a dynamic and exciting exhibition which focuses attention on the democratic impulse of printmaking, and features works which are political, fun and irrreverant.”

Multiplicity is divided into three distinct areas, corresponding to different periods in time: 1960s to 1970s and the reinvigoration of the print medium; 1970s to 1980s and the move to work outside gallery or art making systems and the rise of printmaking collectives; 1990s to the present day which has seen new reproduction technologies allow a plethora of approaches to prints and multiples.

Other themes include the notion of the unique work of art; the incorporation of the vernacular into artistic production, the individual and the collective production of art work, the role of ‘political’ or activist art and the concept of mass-production.

The Multiplicity exhibition has been organised and toured by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. This exhibition is supported by Visions of Australia, an Australian Government Program supporting touring exhibitions by providing funding assistance for the development and touring of cultural material across Australia.

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