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Three Centuries of American Prints from the National Gallery of Art

April 3 – July 24, 2016
West Building, Ground Floor, Outer Tier Galleries

Frances Flora Palmer, A Midnight Race on the Mississippi (detail), 1860, color lithograph with hand-coloring on wove paper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Donald and Nancy de Laski Fund, 2012


This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: This exhibition surveys how America and its people have been represented in prints made by American and non-American artists between 1710 and 2010. Early prints of the continent’s indigenous peoples, its landscapes, flora and fauna, its historical events, wars, and citizenry reflect the curiosity of Europeans about a world they perceived as new and strange. At the same time, American artists often turned to prints to present a vision of their youthful democracy.

Prints are well-suited for quickly conveying images of contemporary events to a wide audience, and thus have often been a forum for social commentary or criticism. The exhibition includes works from across the centuries that aim to raise awareness and inspire change. On view, for instance, is an engraving of the Boston Massacre by Paul Revere as well as a broadside from more than two hundred years later by the undercover feminist collective known as the Guerrilla Girls. The exhibition also features works by artists equally drawn to the aesthetic potential of printmaking. From James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, and others of the late nineteenth century to Jackson Pollock and Helen Frankenthaler in the twentieth, vanguard artists have explored printmaking’s unique artistic possibilities. In recent years, radical experiments by artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, and Richard Serra have pushed to the breaking point the very definition of the medium.

The more than 150 prints in this exhibition, mounted on the occasion of the National Gallery’s 75th anniversary, are drawn entirely from the Gallery’s collection, including promised gifts. 

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington

Sponsors: The exhibition is made possible by Altria Group in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art. 
The international tour of the exhibition is sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional support is provided by The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art.

Attendance: 178,413

Catalog: Three Centuries of American Prints from the National Gallery of Art. By Judith Brodie et al. Washington, D.C. : National Gallery of Art, 2016.

Other Venues: National Gallery, Prague, October 5, 2016–January 8, 2017
Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico City, February 8–April 30, 2017
Dallas Museum of Art, May 28–September 3, 2017

Simon, John
British, 1675 - 1751
Walker, Kara
American, 1969 -
Palmer, Frances Flora Bond
American, 1812 - 1876
Whistler, James McNeill
American, 1834 - 1903
Cassatt, Mary
American, 1844 - 1926
Marin, John
American, 1870 - 1953
Bellows, George
American, 1882 - 1925
Lozowick, Louis
American, 1892 - 1973
Dwight, Mabel
American, 1875 - 1955
Wood, Grant
American, 1891 - 1942
Pollock, Jackson
American, 1912 - 1956
Lichtenstein, Roy
American, 1923 - 1997
Warhol, Andy
American, 1928 - 1987
Johns, Jasper
American, 1930 -
Diebenkorn, Richard
American, 1922 - 1993