Milwaukee Art Museum Receives Major Gift of 178 Colescott Prints

Posted on November 3rd, 2004

Milwaukee, WI, November 3, 2004— The Milwaukee Art Museum is pleased to announce a major gift of 178 prints by internationally respected printmaker Warrington Colescott, a gift of the artist and Frances Myers of Hollandale, WI. This body of material nearly completes the Museum’s holdings of Colescott’s graphic work – bringing the total number to 220 prints – and will make the Herzfeld Print, Drawing and Photography Study Center of the Milwaukee Art Museum an important resource for the study of this influential artist.

“The Museum has had a long association with Warrington Colescott and so we are particularly pleased and grateful that this gift of his life’s work has come to Milwaukee,” said Milwaukee Art Museum Director and CEO David Gordon. “He has a national reputation as a print innovator, social commentator and artist of great originality.”

Colescott chose the Milwaukee Art Museum as a repository for this important body of material in appreciation for the institution’s long-term support of his work. In 1959 the Museum became one of the first public collections that represented the artist. Colescott won the Gimbel Department Store’s annual Wisconsin art contest purchase prize for his painting Madison from the Air, no. 2 , which was then given to the Museum. The Museum has since steadily acquired the artist’s work in all media. In addition, the Museum organized monographic exhibitions on Colescott in 1996, 1977 and 1968 and has included his work in several group shows in the past four decades. Finally, Print Forum, the Milwaukee Art Museum’s print appreciation group, commissioned prints from Colescott in 1996 and 2001. The Herzfeld Print Study Center, constructed as part of the Museum’s expansion in 2001, helped to confirm Colescott’s decision. The artist cited the new facility as a “wonderful resource for research and for encouraging print appreciation.”

Warrington Colescott

Warrington Colescott is internationally respected as a major figure in American printmaking – a significant member of an early generation of artists who helped to instigate a renaissance of printmaking activity in this country after World War II. A satirist in the tradition of Hogarth, Daumier and Gropper, Colescott employs his sharp wit and vivid imagination to interpret contemporary and historical events from personal to public, local to international. In printmaking circles, he is noted for exceptional command of complex techniques and for his unique practice of cutting intaglio plates to silhouette compositional elements.

Colescott was born in 1921 in New Orleans, LA and spent the majority of his childhood in Oakland, CA. After graduating from the University of California – Berkeley and serving in the military, he left for Paris to attend the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. He returned to the U.S. in 1949 and began teaching intaglio courses at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. It was in Madison that he worked with fellow faculty to establish a world-class printmaking program, to raise awareness and appreciation for the medium, and to influence several generations of bourgeoning artists, while maintaining a prolific personal career. He has received several awards throughout his career, including a Fulbright Fellowship to England (1957), a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1965), four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1975, 1979, 1983 and 1993), a Wisconsin Governor’s Award in the Arts (1976) and six University of Wisconsin Research Grants. When Colescott retired from teaching in 1986, he was named the Leo Steppat Professor of Art Emeritus.

Since then, Colescott has worked alongside his wife and fellow printmaker and UWM faculty member Frances Myers from their home and dual studios in Hollandale, WI, also called the Mantegna Press. He is active in the Southern Graphics Council, which named him Printmaker Emeritus in 1992, and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, where he is a fellow. The artist and his wife recently established a second home in New Orleans, LA.

Colescott is represented in Chicago by Perimeter Gallery (which mounts an exhibition of his work in March of 2005), in New Orleans by Herbert Halpern Fine Arts, in Washington, DC by the Jane Haslem Gallery, and in Milwaukee by the Cissie Peltz Gallery. His work is in many major public collections throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, and several others.

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