Blocks of Color: American Woodcuts from the 1890s to the Present

Arthur Wesley Dow: The Derelict (The Lost Boat), 1916
Sep 01, 2009 - Jan 03, 2010
Voorhees Gallery

This presentation of over 100 prints surveys the use of the woodcut medium in the United States. The exhibition begins with a remarkable moment in the late nineteenth century when American artists, inspired by the arts and crafts movement and Japanese color prints, began experimenting with new ways to print in color. Rarely seen color woodcuts by Arthur Wesley Dow, an influential educational leader who promoted the art of the color woodcut, depict alluring Massachusetts landscapes in Japanese-inspired styles. Later artists experimented with the technique to create modernist imagery. Blanche Lazzell adapted cubism to render still lifes and the hills of West Virginia in brilliant yellows, oranges, greens, and blues. By the middle of the twentieth century, artists were transforming the woodcut to display bold colors and abstract forms.

Contemporary artists worked in the medium in unprecedented ways; they created large-scale color woodcuts featuring people, landscapes, geometric abstraction, or organic forms, in styles as varied as abstract expressionism and minimalism. Blocks of Color continues up to the present day with prints by 43 other artists, including Polly Apfelbaum, Richard Bosman, Francesco Clemente, Richard Diebenkorn, Jim Dine, Helen Frankenthaler, Donald Judd, Karen Kunc, Sherrie Levine, Michael Mazur, and others. Drawn primarily from the Zimmerli’s extensive print collection, this exhibition is also complemented by several key loans from regional collections.

Organized by Christine Giviskos, Associate Curator of European Art, with Marilyn Symmes, Director of the Morse Research Center for Graphic Arts and Curator of Prints and Drawings


Arthur Wesley Dow 

The Derelict (The Lost Boat), 1916

Color woodcut

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

Museum Purchase, the Brother International Corporation Japonisme Art Fund