The Boston Public Library has accepted the MGNE portfolio "Coming of Age" for its permanent collection of fine art prints. The portfolio, conceived and organized in 2006, was curated by Joann Moser, Senior Curator of Graphic Arts at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It consists of 30 monotypes created by MGNE members at the time and selected by Dr. Moser. MGNE presented the portfolio to Susan Glover, Acting Director of Special Collections at the Boston Public Library, on May 13, 2009.
The BPL is known for its outstanding collection of prints.
Beginning in 1941-43 with a gift of 5,000 prints and drawings, the Boston Public Library Print Department has built collections by gift and purchase which today total over 100,000 prints and drawings and 650,000 photographs.
In fact, the Library owns one of the larger public collections of prints in the United States. Some of the outstanding holdings include a small but interesting collection of Old Master prints and drawings, including works by Rembrandt and Durer; and larger collections of works of other artists such as Goya, Daumier, and Toulouse-Lautrec. The Department also holds virtually complete collections of the graphic work of Fantin-Latour, Forain, and George Bellows.
The Print Department is especially active in collecting drawings, prints, and photographs by artists with ties to Boston.
Our portfolio was assembled to commemorate MGNE's 20th Anniversary and is the first collection of MGNE members' works. The prints are all on quarter sheets of paper (11" x 15") and represent the versatility of the medium as well as a diversity of artistic vision.
We were honored to have Dr. Moser, who authored "Singular Impressions: The Monotype in America," truly the definitive book on the topic, curate the collection. Moser has organized several print exhibitions for the Smithsonian.
The portfolio is small, in a beautiful presentation case, and was designed to travel. It was exhibited at Lewis Clark State College Center for Art and History in Lewiston, Idaho in April, 2007; however the plans for further travel were never fully realized.
We can all be proud to have the first collection of MGNE monotypes and monoprints become a part of the permanent collection of the Print Department of the Boston Public Library.
Although Dr. Moser was not be able to join the presentation, she recently extended her "congratulations on placing this portfolio in such a prestigious collection."
Joan Hausrath, Esther Maschio, and Carol Odell chaired the effort to create the portfolio, have it travel, and eventually find a permanent home for the collection. This turned out to be a five-year project from vision to finish, and MGNE thanks them for that vision and work in pulling this together. Congratulations are extended to all artists represented in this collection.
Click here to see artists and images included in the portfolio
Juror’s Statement: Coming of Age
One of the pleasures of selecting the prints for this portfolio was the physical size of the prints. The intimacy of the small-scale print is an experience lost in larger works that seek to compete with paintings. Handling the works, experiencing the paper tactilely as well as visually was a privilege. It is rare that a juror has the opportunity to make a selection from the actual works rather than from slides or digital images.
As I was looking through the many wonderful monotypes and monoprints submitted for this portfolio, I began by searching for the most intriguing images. Which ones captured my attention and held it? The second time through, I looked for subtlety. Some of the compositions were quiet and nuanced, works that whispered rather than calling for attention.
Next I eliminated those that seemed decorative or superficially attractive. The speed with which an image can be drawn and printed, the ease with which color can be used in making a monotype, carries the temptation to create flashy surface effects that do not add up to a coherent expression. Accidental effects are among the joys of creating a monotype, but by themselves they do not created a compelling work of art.
I looked for originality and distinctiveness, not in the technique by which the image was created, but rather in the overall impression. Finally, I selected those images that struck an effective balance between control and spontaneity. Despite such varied and demanding criteria for selection, I ultimately had to eliminate several excellent monotypes because the size of the portfolio did not allow for all the worthy prints that were submitted. It is a tribute to the reputation and professionalism of the Monotype Guild of New England that this portfolio attracted submissions from so many fine artists.
Senior Curator, Graphic Arts
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Senior Curator, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Joann Moser has been a curator of graphic arts at the Smithsonian American Art Museum since1986. Her research interests include 20th-century American prints and drawings, and American monotypes. Before coming to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Moser was the senior curator of collections (1976–1986) and acting director (1980, 1981–1983) of the University of Iowa Museum of Art in Iowa City.
Moser has organized several print exhibitions for the Smithosonian including "Singular Impressions: The Monotype in America" (1997), "Prints by California Artists" (1992) and "Visual Poetry: The Drawings of Joseph Stella" (1990).
In addition to authoring exhibition catalogs, Moser has published on Jean Metzinger, the printmaking workshop Atelier 17 and collaborative printmaking in the United States before 1960. She recently published an essay on the prints of Nathan Oliveira, and wrote the lead essay for an upcoming catalogue raisonne of Sean Scully's prints.
Moser is an advisor to the Washington Print Club, and serves on the advisory boards of The Tamarind Papers, Pyramid Atlantic and Hand Print Workshop International. She has served as a juror for numerous national and regional exhibitions.
Moser earned a bachelor's degree in art history from Smith College in 1969. She holds both a master’s degree (1972) and doctorate in art history (1976) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
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