September 6, 2012 / 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Join Curator of Prints and Drawings Amy N. Worthen for a discussion of this exhibition.
Hornets—buzzing, dangerous— make their nests by chewing wood with saliva and extruding
a paperlike substance. Arthur Deshaies’ relief engraving of a hornet’s nest, which suggested
the title of this exhibition, is emblematic of the stinging combination that resulted when the
fundamentally opposite early 20th-century Modernist strategies of Abstraction and Expressionism
collided at midcentury to produce Abstract Expressionism. Around 1940, artists responded in
a personal way to the pervasive anxiety in the post-World War II period. For them, traditional
picture-making became inadequate to express their disillusionment about the failed promise
of modernism and science, horror at man’s inhumanity to man, the existential threats of the
atomic age, or the demons in their own lives. Printmakers found new graphic equivalents and
new spontaneity to cut blocks, engrave plates, and draw on stones. Hornets’ Nest includes 27
works on paper from the Des Moines Art Center’s Permanent Collections.
Artists in the exhibition include:
Pierre Alechinsky, Henry Callahan, Minna Citron, Jean Dubuffet, Sam Francis, Hans Hartung,
Lee Krasner, Henri Matisse, Joan Mitchell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Anne Ryan, and Mark Tobey.
Hornets’ Nest is organized by Amy N. Worthen, curator of prints and drawings.
This exhibition and lecture are supported in part by the Des Moines Art Center