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Happy 40th Anniversary Print Forum

The Print Forum provides an opportunity for Museum Members interested in works on paper to gather and expand their knowledge of the various printmaking methods.

People riding into a party on horseback
Warrington Colescott, I Ride with the Blue Riders. We Visit die Brücke Picnic and Enjoy a Bratwurst, Reminding Me of Summer in Milwaukee, from the portfolio My German Trip, 1992. Color soft-ground etching, spit bite bitumen aquatint, and color relief; plate: 11 13/16 × 13 7/8 in., sheet: 14 11/16 × 20 in. Purchase with funds from Print Forum, M2006.38.9. Photo by Michael Tropea. © Warrington Colescott
People riding into a party on horseback
Bratwurst, Reminding Me of Summer in Milwaukee, from the portfolio My German Trip, 1992. Color soft-ground etching, spit bite bitumen aquatint, and color relief; plate: 11 13/16 × 13 7/8 in., sheet: 14 11/16 × 20 in. Purchase with funds from Print Forum, M2006.38.9. Photo by Michael Tropea. © Warrington Colescott

Nearly forty years ago, in 1981, a group of twelve Museum Members with an interest in prints and drawings established Print Forum. George Evans and Kent Anderson served as the group’s first president and vice-president, respectively. One of the Museum’s nine currently active support groups, Print Forum is among the longest standing.

As its name suggests, Print Forum provides an opportunity for Museum Members interested in works on paper to gather and expand their knowledge of the various printmaking methods. Its members enjoy curator-guided viewings and visits to artists’ studios and print workshops. The group also plays an important role in supporting exhibitions, programs, and other initiatives at the Museum that are related to printmaking. During the 2015 renovation, Print Forum members advocated for adding dedicated spaces for displaying works on paper, which are sensitive to light and need to be rotated frequently. As a result, four galleries now regularly feature selections of drawings and prints.

Highlights of Print Forum’s activities over the past forty years include organizing a print fair that showcased twenty-two print dealers; hosting weeklong residency programs with artists Tom Huck and Juan Sánchez; commissioning ten prints for members by nationally known artists; and conducting a successful fundraising campaign to publish the catalogue raisonné of Warrington Colescott’s graphic work (see the first image).

William Blake, There Were Not Found Women as Fair as the Daughters of Job in all the Land…, plate 20 from the series, Illustrations from the Book of Job, 1825. Engraving on chine collé sheet: 8 5/8 x 6 3/4 in. (21.91 x 17.15 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Print Forum M1994.366. Photo by John R. Glembin
James Ensor, The Cathedral, 1896. Etching, hand-colored with watercolor; plate: 9 3/4 × 7 7/8 in., sheet: 17 3/16 × 13 3/16 in. Purchase, with funds from Print Forum in honor of its thirtieth anniversary and in memory of Kent Anderson, funds in memory of Betty Croasdaile, and John E. Julien, and funds from Tom and Lore Firman, M2011.12. Photo by John R. Glembin. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Belgium, SABAM
Woman in a short red dress and heels punching a man in a uniform
Enrique Chagoya, The Adventures of the Modernist Cannibals, 1999. Accordion-fold book with color lithographs, woodcuts, and collage. 7 1/2 x 92 in. (19.05 x 233.68 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, with funds from Laurie Eiseman and Roma Braun Eiseman, Christopher Graf, George and Angela Jacobi, Lise Lawson, and Print Forum in memory of Janet Erickson Graf, M2000.153. Photo by John R. Glembin

One of Print Forum’s primary goals has been to fund the acquisition of works on paper for the Museum’s collection, such as those pictured in this post. The group has supported the purchase of more than 130 portfolios and individual impressions by renowned printmakers such as Jacques Callot, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and Félix Vallotton. To celebrate its fortieth anniversary season, Print Forum will facilitate the purchase of a print that will help the Museum advance its goal of collecting work that was made by or tells the narratives of historically underrepresented individuals and communities.

To learn about how you can become a member of Print Forum, visit the Museum’s website. My thanks to Ray Kehm, the current Print Forum president, for contributing to this article.

Nikki Otten headshot

Nikki Otten is associate curator of prints and drawings. She plans exhibitions and rotations, manages acquisitions, and researches the collection of works on paper from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century.

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