East and Beyond: Helen Frankenthaler and Her Contemporaries

September 29, 2015 – January 17, 2016
John Brady Print Gallery

In celebration of the acquisition of Helen Frankenthaler's breakthrough color woodblock print, East and Beyond, 1973, the Art Center presents an exhibition contextualizing Frankenthaler's print.

The exhibition includes four works on paper by Frankenthaler, as well as 23 works on paper and ceramics by American and Japanese artists who were active during the 1950s to 1980s. Transcending and merging their cultures' printmaking traditions, these artists too moved "beyond East" and "beyond West,"Japanese pictorial traditions, including expressive sumi-e brush painting and Zen calligraphy, the use of un-sized supports, and ukiyo-e printing, inspired artists such as Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and Robert Motherwell and influenced their development as Abstract Expressionists, American ceramists Gertrud and Otto Natzler, Glenn Nelson, and William Wyman looked to Zen-inspired ceramics. Concurrently, Japanese Modernists Fumiaki Fukita, Hideo Hagiwara, Shoichi Ida, Masuo Ikeda, Hoshi Joichi, Haku Maki, Tetsuya Noda, Koshiro Onchi, Takumi Shinagawa, Hiroyuki Tajima, and Ansei Uchima moved towards Western approaches to abstraction, Pop Art, and Photorealism, as manifested in their woodblock prints, etchings, and lithographs.

The exhibition includes David Hockney’s lithograph inspired by a ukiyo-e print. It also includes one work not by a contemporary of Frankenthaler but which is pertinent to the exhibition — a color woodblock print by 19th century-Japanese printmaker Ikeda Eisen. Nor can this survey omit the California printmaker Carol Summers, whose abstract color relief prints, such as La Terra Trema, anticipated by a decade the adaption of Japanese block printing techniques by East Coast artists and printers. 

All but two of the works in the exhibition are from the Art Center's permanent collections. Thanks to the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation generous loan of Frankenthaler’s color woodblock prints Savage Breeze and Essence Mulberry, the Art Center has the extraordinary opportunity to present two major works by the artist that fulfilled the prophecy of East and Beyond

Amy N. Worthen, curator of prints and drawings, is the organizer of the exhibition.

Frankenthaler Logo Bank

entirely unexpected