The David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland is pleased to organize the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition of influential artist and master printmaker Robert Hamilton Blackburn (1920-2003): Robert Blackburn: Passages. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Deborah Cullen, Director & Chief Curator, The Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University in the City of New York; with contributions by Prof. Curlee R. Holton, Executive Director, David C. Driskell Center.
Robert Blackburn: Passages features 90 works by Blackburn and thirteen works by his contemporaries such as Charles Alston, Will Barnet, Grace Hartigan, Robin Holder, and Romare Bearden. Passages will include works on loan from the Library of Congress, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts’ Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, The Cochran Collection, The Nelson/Dunks Collection, and Metropolitan Transit Authority Arts for Transit and Urban Design, and others. The exhibition will be on display at the Driskell Center from September 18th through December 19th 2014. The exhibition will start its national tour on January 2015 and will travel thereafter.
A retrospective of Blackburn's work is long overdue. A “printmaker’s printmaker,” Blackburn affected the course of twentieth-century graphic through his own work, as well as through the institution which he founded in New York City in 1948, The Printmaking Workshop—the oldest and largest print workshop in the United States until 2001. Blackburn’s “passages” through the modern and contemporary print world are complex and unique, and he is a bridge between the Works Project Administration (WPA) and the “print explosion” of the 1960s.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Driskell Center has published an exhibition catalogue which is the first significant monograph of Robert Blackburn’s work. The catalogue includes color reproductions of each work in the exhibition, as well as essays by Prof. Curlee R. Holton and curator Dr. Deborah Cullen, whose monographic text is an excerpt from her dissertation, Robert Blackburn: American Printmaker, 2002 (The Graduate Center of the City University of New York). The catalogue will be available for purchase at the Driskell Center and on the Center’s website for $35.
In addition, the Driskell Center and the Arts Program at the University of Maryland University College will host a symposium, “Robert Blackburn and the Modernist Movement in Prints,” on Friday and Saturday, October 24th and 25th. Both the symposium and exhibition look at Blackburn’s work within the context of American modernism. The symposium’s sessions include: “Is it a Good Print, or Not?”; “Blackburn as an Artist/Printmaker and his Contemporaries”; “Blackburn and Modernism”; and “Printmaking in the Washington/Maryland Area: The Next Generation.” Presenters at the symposium include Judith Brodie, Curator and Head, Department of Modern Prints and Drawings, National Gallery of Art; Professor. Curlee R. Holton, Executive Director, David C. Driskell Center; Dr. Deborah Cullen, Director and Chief Curator, Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University; Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints & Poster, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress; Phil Sanders, Director, Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop; Prof. Joshua Shannon, Associate Professor, Contemporary Art History & Theory at the Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Maryland; Prof. David C. Driskell, artist and Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Art at University of Maryland, College Park; Justin Strom, associate professor, printmaking and digital imaging, Honors Program director, University of Maryland, College Park; Dennis O’Neil, director, Hand Print Workshop International, Alexandria, Virginia; and Tonia Matthews, director, MFA Studio Art, Towson University. Additional information about the symposium is available here.
The David C. Driskell facility is wheelchair accessible. The Driskell Center Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 11a.m. to 4p.m. with extended hours on Wednesday until 6p.m. The Driskell Center Gallery will additionally be open on Saturday, September 20th, October 11th, November 1st, and December 6th, from 11a.m. to 4p.m. The Driskell Center observes all University of Maryland closings due to inclement weather and holidays, including the Thanksgiving holiday November 27-29, 2014. For further information regarding this exhibition and future activities at the Driskell Center, please call 301.314.2615 or visit www.driskellcenter.umd.edu. All exhibitions and events at the David C. Driskell Center are free and open to the public. This exhibition and its catalogue are supported by the Anyone Can Fly Foundation; the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop and the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts; the Estate of Robert Blackburn; and by a grant from Maryland State Arts Council.