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7.12.11

Juicy Prints @ the BMA

I don't get to the Baltimore Museum of Art as often as I would like, but this past weekend I made my way there three days in a row. The first, Friday evening, was for a memorial service for a friend, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance founder and all-around Baltimore arts maven, Nancy Haragan. Nancy passed last weekend after a long struggle with melanoma. We will miss her humor, energy, and passion - what cultural board was she not on?

On Saturday Brian Garner, Litho Shop printer extraordinaire, led a panel discussion with Daniel Heyman and Andrew Raftery, two artists in the current exhibit Print by Print: Series from Dürer to Lichtenstein. Heyman's The Amman Project is a series of eight portraits, using dry point etching, of former Abu Ghraib prisoners. His Hockney-esque-style imagery draws you in, while their horrific testimony of torture and abuse Heyman has scratched out - in reverse - surrounding each portrait will make one cringe, or it should. The prints are a success both in design and as a way of slowing the viewer down to actually read the text. Though not as dramatic as the Botero paintings on view at the Katzen Center two years ago, reviewed here, they are subtle and very effective. Thankfully the visual response to these atrocities continues to unfold.



On a lighter note, Raftery, in the tradition of Hogarth, whose wonderful Harlot's Progress is part of this exhibit, with sly wit and a meticulous eye in his Open House series explores the mundane act of prospective buyers at a realtor's open house. I can't get the image of the small baby hanging crucifixion-style strapped in a snuggy. Check out the child in the car seat -- or is it some kind of torture chamber? Precious.

This exhibit reminds us of what treasure the BMA has in its print department: Dürer, Picasso, Canaletto, Lichtenstein, Duchamp. It also exposes one of printmaking's strengths, the process of story telling in a series. Not only the frame-by-frame apocalyptic scenes of Dürer, Hogarth, or Redon (one of my favorites), but the strange mysterious architecture of Tiepolo or Roy Lichtenstein's colorful take on Monet's haystacks.

Slow art -- juicy, inked plates embossed on hand-crafted paper -- this viewer was in print heaven.

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