[Table of Contents] [Search]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [BKARTS] Help with History of American Printmakers

Hello, Natalie, and welcome to the U.S.of A!

You are RIGHT in grumbling about the chronic emphasis on a few key
printmakers in American art history. It is a pet peeve of mine as well.
As a printmaker myself, I love learning from ALL printmakers, and quite
detest the exclusion of worthy and even exemplary printmakers from the
official 'canon', as it were. I have a favorite that is often
overlooked, who just recently passed away.

VERA BERDICH (b. Chicago, Illinois, 1915–d. Chicago, Illinois, 2003) was
very influencial in the of Chicago in the mid-twentieth century... in
fact, she founded the Etching Department at the School of the Art
Institute of Chicago in 1948.

Here is a blurb from the PRINTWORKS GALLERY site, that has featured her
works for decades:

Received B.A. in 1946 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Received Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts in 1977
from Elmhurst College (Elmhurst, Illinois). Museum collections include
the Art Institute of Chicago, Library of Congress,
Museum of Modern Art (New York), Brooklyn Museum, Victoria and Albert
Museum, and Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris).
Honors and awards include the Clyde M. Carr Prize for Print from the Art
Institute of Chicago, McFadden Eyre Medal
from the Pennsylvania Academy, Library of Congress Purchase Prize, three
Huntington Hartford Foundation Fellowships,
San Francisco Print Prize from the California Society of Etchers,
MacDowell Art Colony Fellowship, three Illinois Print
Exhibition Awards, three Frank G. Logan Medals, and a Yaddo Foundation
Fellowship. In 1991, Berdich's archival papers
were entered into the American Art Archives, Smithsonian Institution.

Go here to see some good examples of her works:

Here is an excerpt from a writeup following Vera's death in Oct. 2003,
by Barbara Aubin:
Masterful as a technician, her work always hauntingly unique, had at its
base painstakingly hand wiped (“a la poupee”)
inkings of a plate usually taking a print through many printings
producing subtle variations of tone and color. She always
saw to running the press herself unlike many of her contemporaries. She
introduced the photoengraved plate as a distinct
way to create an image. At first she utilized cast offs from commercial
printmaking shops revising them substantially by
scrapings and burnishings. Later she devised her own photo-etched
plates. She revived cliché verre as another technique
to explore and revived other printmaking practices from the past not
used in contemporary printmaking always adding
creative approaches of her own. Berdich nurtured and mentored many
important artists on the local, national, and
international scene, particularly the Chicago Imagists.

And here is a view of my favorite of her prints, Time Being Day by Day,
1952 (you can zoom in and see it in good detail)

Actually.... though I am not a Chicagoan, and have only been to Chicago
a few times, I was introduced to that "alternative to New York" if you
like, through my interest in Vera Berdich, whose original Civil War era
Charles Brand press I now possess. (or does it possess me?) I felt an
immediate affinity to Vera's work, which seemed to speak to me
spiritually. Her style is uncannily similar to mine. Or, I should say,
vice versa... though I was not exposed to her work until a few years
ago, after I acquired my press and flew into a fever of research to know
its history. Since then, I have been quite drawn to the group of
wonderful printmakers of that city, many of whom have made significant
contributions to the medium of printmaking, particularly in the 50's and
60s... and to whom, James Yood, a Chicago art critic and lecturer,
applied the moniker: "the Monster Roster".

From a write-up by Brianna Schneider, Managing Editor of the
Northwestern Observer, about a wonderful exhibition "Second Sight:
Printmaking in Chicago 1935-1995," which was held at the Northwestern
University Mary and Leigh Block Gallery, Sept. - Dec.8. 1996:

"...[A] major movement occurred in the 1950s. Yood refers to it as the
Monster Roster group of artists that was responding
to the legacies of World War II, the Cold War and the existential angst
of the time with mythical and brooding imagery.

"It is in the 1950s that Chicago first begins to present itself as an
independent art center as opposed to New York, or at least
presents itself as an alternative to New York," said Yood. "Chicago
retains its fascination with the human figure in terms of stress,
while in New York abstraction reigned supreme."

In the late 1960s, the development of a Chicago signature style began
with Imagism, a style that continues to this day. Imagism
presents an irreverent and tongue-in-cheek take on modern existence, and
is marked by lively surface patterns and the kind of
manic, comic energy that is very intriguing. Yood described it as "a
funky and obtrusive style that can be surprisingly revelatory."


Artists such as Vera Berdich, who was so innovative, so inventive,
really inspire me. It is worth a side-trip into centers other than New
York, to find printmakers who were and are doing marvelous things.
Others of the Chicago scene past and present worth checking out, are
Gertrude Abercrombie, Ivan Albright, Sally Alatalo, Don Baum, Kathleen
Blackshear, Phyllis Bramson, Adam Brooks, Margaret Burroughs, Rodney
Carswell, Bill Cass, Philip Chen, Eleanor Coen, George Cohen, William
Conger, Susanne Doremus, Nella Fermi (daughter of nuclear physicist
Enrico Fermi), Tony Fitzpatrick, Leon Golub, Margo Hoff, Richard Hunt,
Michiko Itatani, Miyoko Ito, Juliette Kepes, Vera Klement, Ellen Lanyon,
June Leaf, Audrey Niffenegger, Gladys Nilsson, Ed Paschke, Chris Pielak,
Claire Prussian, Martin Puryear, Christina Ramberg, Kay Rosen, Barbara
Rossi, Hollis Sigler, Jeanette Sloan, Nancy Spero, Barbara Spitz, Evelyn
Statsinger, Bibiana Suarez, Frances Whitehead, and Karl Wirsum.

Hope some of this will be of interest...
All the best in your adventure, Natalie

Rebecca Everett
Rebecca F. Everett magnoliahouse@xxxxxxxxxxxx
~Magnolia House Press~ Studio, Workshop & Gallery
Printmaking~Letterpress~BookArts~Handmade papers
"...press forward...with a perfect brightness of hope..."

ps: just an aside... do y'all downunder refer to us as being "up over"? : )

    The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist

            For all your subscription questions, go to the
                     Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.

                 Both at: <http://www.philobiblon.com>

[Subject index] [Index for current month] [Table of Contents] [Search]