75th Anniversary American Abstract Artists Print Portfolio

Aug. 31 – Oct. 20, 2017

Stephen Westfall, Rose Mirror, 2012
Stephen Westfall, "Rose Mirror," 2012.

The American Abstract Artists was founded in 1936 at a time when abstract art was met with substantial resistance. The organization is based out of New York City, although not all member-artists live in the New York metro area. AAA has published four print portfolios since its inception, the first in 1937 on the occasion of the organization’s first exhibition. The second was printed in 1987 for its 50th anniversary, and the third was printed in 1997 for the 60th anniversary. AAA produced the fourth and most recent portfolio as part of the group’s 75th anniversary in 2012. This edition consists of 75 numbered copies and one printer’s proof as wells as artist’s proofs given to each of the participating 48 members.

The previous three editions were produced using traditional printmaking processes, including lithography and other means of transferring an image from a plate. However, for the 75th Anniversary American Abstract Artists Print Portfolio, artists were asked to provide a digital file. By using new technology, AAA President Daniel G. Hill acknowledged the group’s goal to situate the portfolio “squarely in the current century” and to move contemporary art forward. While confined to predetermined specifications, the selected artists were free to use a range of processes. They include taking abstract and documentary photographs, scanning two-dimensional works created specifically for the project, compositing and manipulation of images, and employing vector-based software such as Adobe Illustrator. The resulting 48 prints that were on view are as varied as they are fresh, conveying each artist’s attentiveness to the possibilities of new technology. The presentation of this touring exhibition at the UHCL Art Gallery marked the first time the portfolio was presented in a university setting west of the Mississippi River.

Although the preview reception was cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, on Monday, Oct. 2, 6 p.m., the gallery hosted a lecture about the exhibition by Daniel G. Hill, president of AAA and Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Parsons, The New School.

The 75th Anniversary American Abstract Artists Print Portfolio was organized by The Ewing Gallery of Art and Architecture at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. Following its debut at the Brattleboro Museum in Brattleboro, Vt. and the viewing at UT’s Downtown Gallery, the exhibition traveled to the Sarah Moody Gallery at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala.; the Martin Art Gallery at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa.; the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.; Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.; Marywood University in Scranton, Pa.; Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.; and Wrather West Kentucky Museum at Murray State University in Murray, Ky. The presentation at the University of Houston-Clear Lake Art Gallery is funded by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.

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