August 6–November 29, 2009
Figurative Prints: 1980s Rewind focuses on an art-historical moment when the figure returned as a dominant subject of artistic expression. Following on the heels of Minimalism and Conceptualism, the resurgence of the figure coincided with a renewed interest in image-making and the sensuality and emotionality of the painted surface. The trend in figuration spanned the globe, but it was especially prominent in the work of American, German, and Italian artists who returned to familiar images, including myth, allegory, and narrative.
Figurative Prints features approximately forty works drawn almost exclusively from the Museum's outstanding collection of contemporary prints. Artists include Georg Baselitz, Richard Bosman, Francesco Clemente, Eric Fischl, Jörg Immendorff, Susan Rothenberg, David Salle, and Julian Schnabel. Though many are primarily known as painters, the artists represented in Figurative Prints embraced printmaking for its physicality, directness, and immediacy. Etching and woodcut resurged at this time as the most appropriate techniques to reflect the many dramas they were depicting. Some artists struggled with their nation's historical and cultural legacy, others turned inward, exploring private moments such as dreams and unconscious states. Figurative Prints puts the work of so-called Neo-Expressionists, graffiti artists, and academically trained artists side by side.
Figurative Prints: 1980s Rewind and the feature exhibition Andy Warhol: The Last Decade, on view in Baker/Rowland Galleries September 26, 2009–January 3, 2010, both provide examples of different artistic practices from the turbulent 1980s and mutually complement the other.
Support for Figurative Prints: 1980s Rewind is provided by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Johnson and Pabst LGBT Humanity Fund. The exhibition is curated by Brooke Mulvaney, collections manager of works on paper.
Richard Bosman (American b.1944), Man Overboard, 1981. (detail) Color woodcut, 23 3/4 x 15 in. (block), 26 5/8 x 16 1/3 in. (sheet). Gift of Contemporary Art Society with National Endowment for the Arts Matching Funds. M1990.7. © Richard Bosman, Photo John Glembin