The word “contact” in the art of printmaking evokes the interactions between ink, paper, and press. In this exhibition, the term has additional meaning not immediately linked to the nature of printmaking. Curated by MA candidates in the Department of Art History and Archaeology, Contact: Community and Collaboration Across Five Centuries of Printmaking presents seventeen prints from Columbia’s Art Properties collection in Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. Each student selected a print based on their research interests, then the students worked together to curate an exhibition that bridged this eclectic group of works. While community and collaboration as working methods characterize printmaking—a print is often the product of the combined skills of a designer, engraver, printer, and publisher—they also refer here to the curatorial process. 

Displayed on the walls of the Judith Lee Stronach Center, this exhibition takes place in a space designed for social contact, collaboration, and community-building around a shared commitment to art history. The MA cohort responsible for this exhibition constitutes its own community, which itself exists within larger ones, including the Department, the Libraries, and Columbia University. In turn, the curators acknowledge that this institution of learning is located in Lenapehoking, the territory of the Lenape people, an Indigenous community that experienced displacement and dispossession, and continues to be present on the land where we currently study and work. Today, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the curators hope that “contact,” “community,” and “collaboration” can signal renewed interaction among the members of our Department and beyond, around works of art that we can connect with in person. 

Though spanning five centuries, the seventeen prints on view are not meant to tell a holistic history of printmaking. A relatively broad range of techniques are shown—all of which are explained in the handout—but only a few artistic traditions are represented. Therefore, while the prints’ individual labels engage with themes of contact, community, and collaboration from multiple perspectives, the general display is guided by formal echoes between neighboring prints, rather than by historical, geographical, or contextual relations. As you view the exhibition, we invite you to reflect on our curatorial choices and to consider other connections you might find across the prints, since the current display is only one of many possibilities. We also encourage you to engage further with the exhibition.


Image Description

Three men, represented mainly in outlines, walk through empty space with their backs to us in this horizontal drypoint on yellowed paper. They wear loose, long work clothes, made darker in some areas through overlapping lines incised closer together. The man on the left looks down to the right, exposing some of his cheek and forehead. He is distinguished by a pitchfork over his right shoulder and a jug in his left hand. The middle man wears a hat and vest, a jug hanging from a strap in his left hand and a bundle of something like hay under his right arm. Both men’s feet disappear behind the horizontal line of the path, as though having just passed the apex of a hill. The third man follows just behind them to the right. He wears a dark hat and walks such that the left side of his face is visible, revealing a dark beard. His right hand supports the end of a long rake, which he balances on his shoulder. Only parts of his feet and shoes are represented, the rest melting into the ground. Single, connecting strokes on either side of the group curve downward to suggest stacks of hay, which frame the composition. The artist signs his name, “Blampied,” at an angle in the lower left corner. The plate mark leaves a darkened edge around the entire scene. In pencil, the name of the artist “E. Blampied,” appears again, just below the signature and the plate mark. An off-white mat frames the image.

Edmund Blampied (British, 1886–1966)
The End of the Day
8 5/8 x 13 5/8 in. (21.8 x 34.7 cm)
Gift to Columbia University (C00.0702)

Edmund Blampied, a British artist who spent most of his life on the island of Jersey, specialized in prints depicting farm life. In this drypoint, three laborers, their backs to the viewer, return from a day’s work. Set against a nearly blank landscape, the men are pushed into the foreground. Blampied opted to sketch just enough detail for the viewer to understand the scene, thus retaining the ambiguity and anonymity that characterize his oeuvre. Despite spending several years in London and abroad, Blampied always seemed to return to the Channel Islands, and his work reflects an interest in this local community. The End of the Day depicts a scene that champions workers and, while relatively universal, can be understood as being set in Jersey, Blampied’s beloved home. Caroline G. Beatrice

Image Description

From a raised position, we observe four people gathered around a low grill amid straw stacks in this vertical woodblock print. The entire image is comprised of hues of pale yellow and orange with hints of olive green, and outlined in black. On the left near us, one man kneels on a yellow mat to tend clams cooking on the rectangular grill. He wears a taupe robe with an orange sash, his black hair tied back at the nape of his neck. In his right hand, close to us, he uses chopsticks to move the clams, while holding a flat fan in his left hand. More clams are scattered on the ground behind him and in a basket to the right. A second man with short, black hair and bare legs and feet brings out more clams from a teahouse. The teahouse has a thatched roof and cloth awning supported by a green pole at its right corner. Most of the house is cut off by the left edge of the composition. The awning extends just above the heads of two visitors, who sit across from the cook. The man closer to us is represented in profile with a balding head, his remaining black hair tied in two top knots. He wears a taupe jacket and holds a thin pipe, placed between his lips. His companion to the left faces us and wears a green coat and taupe head wrap. Between them, they have a few wrapped bundles and a large crate. Triangular hats rest at their sides. A stack of straw cuts through the lower right corner, and two more stacks are piled just beyond the awning. A yellow bridge at the right disappears behind the house to the left. Stick-like bushes with sparse leaves grow from a small corner of uneven, curving ground on the right. The off-white sky consumes about half of the image. Two lines of stylized clouds with thin, perfectly curved ends cut through the space. The same shape appears across the lower left corner to suggest the scene exists at a high altitude. Japanese characters in black ink announce the print’s title, “Kuwana,” at the top center and written phonetically in smaller characters to the right. “Tōkaidō gojūsan tsugi,” “The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido,” is written at the top right corner.

Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849)
Published by Nishimuraya Yohachi and Iseya Rihei 
Kuwana, from the series Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido (Tōkaidō gojūsan tsugi)
Ca.1806, Edo period
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
8 3/4 x 6 1/2 in. (22.2 x 16.5 cm)
The Stebbins Memorial Collection (C00.1755.037)

Katsushika Hokusai’s long and prolific career as an ukiyo-e artist culminated in his famous late landscapes. In contrast, his earlier work, including the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido series, remains understudied. This print evokes the essence of daily life in the harbor city of Kuwana through minute depictions of people brought together on the Tokaido road connecting Japan’s political capital, Edo, with the imperial capital, Kyoto. On the right, two travelers set their heavy luggage by a chaya (teahouse). On the left, a man is grilling hamaguri clams, while an attendant brings a basket full of gifts from the nearby sea. As the natural landscape recedes into the floating clouds, individuals from different walks of life gather at the forefront of the composition. Yuchen (Tracy) Jiao

Image Description

Dominated by a dramatic landscape that includes an enormous tree on the right, a man works to open a canal gate at the center of this vertical mezzotint. The image is printed with black ink on paper that has developed a browned, almost rosy tint. The canal cuts at a slight diagonal through the page, though its dark wooden gate obscures most of the water. The man turns to our left as he presses his full body weight, hands raised in front of his face, into a pole connected to the partially open gate. He wears a dark vest, pants, and hat with a light shirt, rolled up at the sleeves. His left arm, closest to us, hides most of his face. A wide, wooden boat glides toward him from the right, as a man standing at its bow attempts to slow its movement with a rope wrapped around a pole further to the right. He is dressed in a loose, white shirt, dark pants, and a tall, dark hat. Just beyond the boat, the face and shoulders of a woman peer over its edge through a triangular space created by the rope. The weedy grass slopes downward in the right corner. To the left of the gate, a person kneels between a horse and a dog tugging at something in the ground. The top half of the composition is entirely consumed by the sky and the large tree on the right. Its branches begin thick and low to the ground and tangle among each other higher up, almost entirely black aside from a couple of places where the sun hits. Its leaves appear soft and curling, full of movement. Little sky is visible through them. To the left, a single tower arises amid various trees along the horizon line. Dramatic clouds fill the open space and are lighter and fuller near the horizon, and darker in the left corner as light streaks downward from them. Small clusters of birds fly in the right corner and below the darkest clouds. Upon closer inspection, the darkest areas appear almost stippled. Overall, the sky contrasts heavily with the gate and tree. The blank paper leaves a border around the image that is larger at the bottom to provide space for its inscription, which reads, in the lower left: PAINTED BY JOHN CONSTABLE, ESQR. R. A.; inscribed lower right: ENGRAVED BY DAVID LUCAS.; inscribed bottom center: To the President and Members of the Royal Academy of Arts, / This LANDSCAPE Engraved from a Painting by JOHN CONSTABLE, Esq. R. A. / Is by permission most respectfully dedicated by their Obedient Servant / Thomas Boys / London, Republished Feby. 15, 1853, by Thomas Boys, (of the late firm of Moon, Boys & Graves,) Printseller to the Royal Family, 467, Oxford Street: Paris, E. Gambart & Co. 9, Rue d’Orleans am Marais Deposé. / Originally Published June 2, 1834.

David Lucas (British, 1802–1881), after John Constable (British, 1776–1837)
The Lock
First published 1834; republished 1853
Plate: 26 7/8 x 20 1/4 in. (68.2 x 51.5 cm)
Sheet: 27 1/2 x 21 in. (69.9 x 53.3 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William M. Cahn, Jr. (1982.14.038)

In 1829, painter John Constable and engraver David Lucas collaborated to publish Constable’s masterworks into prints, a project that fell in line with commercial trends in contemporary British art. The inscription on The Lock indicates that the print was originally published in 1834, then republished sixteen years after Constable’s death. With this republication, Lucas may have hoped to replicate his earlier success with Constable, find greater financial security, or be considered for another vote as a member of the Royal Academy of Arts. Regardless of Lucas’s motivations, this print of The Lock was praised by critics of the time for capturing what Constable called “the chiaroscuro of nature,” an intensity between light and dark, visible in the landscape’s bright, cloud-filled sky, contrasting with the varying shades of darks in the tree—a testament to Lucas’s skill with mezzotint. Caroline Chang

Image Description

We seem to look down onto a path weaving alongside a waterfall nestled in a green mountain valley in this vertical woodblock print. The waterfall flows through the center of the composition, its highest point about two thirds of the way up the image. It has approximately two tiers, represented by the off-white of the paper, several vertical lines of black ink, and a thick gradient of indigo at the base of each. Sharp, hay-yellow rocks tower along either side of the waterfall. Kelly-green grass suggested by tiny lines in darker ink covers their summits. Darker green trees grow in sparse clusters along the top. A grey road beginning at the bottom of the composition follows the curve of the waterfall up toward an arched cave opening in the rocky facade. Lines indicate steps just before the opening, in which three figural statues stand. At the opposite end of the road, two people wearing yellow, wide-brimmed and triangular hats travel up the road near the edge. They carry baskets and walking sticks. Further up, where the path curves back toward the waterfall, three more people in similar dress sit, observing the view. The sky is a gradation of blues, beginning with a strong line of indigo at the top, quickly transitioning to the white of the blank paper, then becoming a soft blue. The abrupt line of indigo is mirrored at the bottom. The title in Japanese characters appears in the upper right corner in a yellow box with inverted corners, mimicking the shape of the entire image outlined in black. Directly to the right of the title, the series title floats in a narrow, red banner. A second red banner displaying the artist’s signature, “Hiroshige-hitsu,” is suspended in the rocks on the lower left side. Two circled seals represent the zodiacal date and the censor seal in the lower right corner. A third circle just below is the publisher’s signature, “Tsutaya Kichiz.” Blank paper creates a border around the print.

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858), published by Tsutaya Kichizō
The Cave Shrine of Kannon at Sakanoshita (Sakanoshita, gankutsu no Kannon)
From the series Famous Views of the Fifty-three Stations (Gojūsan tsugi meisho zue)

1855, Edo period
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
14 3/4 x 10 1/8 in. (37.4 x 25.7 cm)
The Stebbins Memorial Collection (C00.1755.024)

A master of ukiyo-e, Utagawa Hiroshige is best known for his depiction of the fifty-three stations of the Tokaido road. This print, the forty-ninth in a series unprecedented for its vertical format, captures travelers from the Sakanoshita station making their way along a steep mountain pathway above rushing water to a cave shrine dedicated to Kannon, the widely worshipped bodhisattva in Japan. The artist’s use of the tonal gradation technique (bokashi) contributes to the print’s lyrical mood. The product of a collaboration between designers, printers, and publishers, prints such as this one were both souvenirs and advertisements for would-be travelers, demonstrating the popularity of pilgrimages as a form of wanderlust for the Edo people. Ying Su

Image Description

Situated slightly higher than center on straw-yellow paper in black ink, this vertical etching functions like a window into a tight, enclosed space occupied by three women. One woman sits on a fur-draped bench situated on an elevated platform, her legs crossed to our right. Though her torso faces us, she gazes off to the left while leaning her head against her left fingers, her elbow propped up on her knee. She wears a loose, light-colored dress and a long, dark scarf draped from her head, down her shoulders, and across her lap. Her right hand rests, palm up, on a cushion below her thigh. A second woman sits sideways on the floor, steps down from the other, with her back against a curtain along the left side of the composition. Facing our right, her legs bend up to support her arms, crossed with one hand over the opposite forearm and extending out in front of her. She tilts her head back slightly. Her dress is sleeveless and gaping down the side, and her feet are bare. Her dark hair is wrapped in a light cloth. The third woman, facing us, stands on the first step behind a hanging curtain on the right edge of the image. With her right hand, she pulls the curtain to obscure her left eye and part of her dark hair and her body, though her left hand and toes peer out. She looks off to our right and leans her head into the curtain. Her dress matches her companions’. A woven tapestry leans against a wall in the space between the two higher women, depicting an image of two fantastical creatures, perhaps a griffon and dragon. Just behind the second woman’s head, there is also a ball of yarn, and next to it a basket and a tall, candle-lit lamp. More curtains hang in the back between two columns, and a garland of small flowers is suspended from the rod across the top. Countless varying lines overlap to create depth, shadow, and texture in the composition. A single, toothed line travels along the bottom edge of the image, interrupted in the middle by the Greek word ΠΗΝΕΛΟΠΕΙΑ meaning Penelope in English. Written in pencil just below the print are the letters “a.n” on the left, and the artist’s signature, print’s location, and date, “S. Lipinsky. Rome 1927,” on the right.

Sigmund Lipinsky (German/American, 1873–1940)
Penelope, from the series Odyssey
Sheet size: 17 3/8 x 11 1/4 in. (44.2 x 28.5 cm)
Plate size: 9 5/8 x 6 in. (24.5 x 15.2 cm)
Gift to Columbia University (C00.1782.13)

Born in Graudenz, Prussia, Sigmund Lipinsky studied in Berlin, pursued his artistic career in Rome, Paris, and Berlin, and eventually learned to etch in the 1910s. Inspired by Homer’s epic poem, Lipinsky’s series can be viewed as a collaboration between literary and visual art forms. Classical representations of nude females are ubiquitous in Lipinsky’s oeuvre; as such, his regal depiction of Penelope as the Queen of Ithaca in this print is atypical. She sits at her loom awaiting the return of Odysseus, looking out longingly. Two despondent servants accompany her in a compact, decorative domestic setting, reinforcing a feeling of communal weariness. Barriane Franks

Image Description

Engulfed in darkness, a single light suspended in the right corner illuminates the image of a woman sitting at a table in this black and off-white, vertical etching and aquatint. Much of the image is black, yet upon closer inspection, the lines build shadows and create layers of depth. The woman’s head seemingly floats in space; her neck attaches to her chest at a single point in the front. A thin, darker shadow emphasizes the shape of her head and confuses the presence of her hair. The left side of her face and hairline are created by a crosshatched shadow while the rest of her face is unmarked, exposing the paper to create a brightly lit effect. Her features are small, suggested through thin lines of shadow against the stark, blank paper. She turns her head toward us, yet her eyes look off to our left. Her chest faces the right. Lighter patches with vertical stripes suggest her clothing from the waist up, just above the table’s edge. The rest of her body dissolves completely into darkness. Both hands rest on the bright table in front of her, her fingers touching a white paper under a narrow ambiguous black mark, perhaps a pen. In the middle of the table, at its far edge, sits a vague object shaped like a rectangle with a small bowl on top. Only the table’s dappled surface is shown, the rest disappears with the woman’s body. The only source of light takes the shape of a small lamp floating in the right corner. It contains few lines and little detail, essentially constructed in the negative space. A line of discoloration surrounding the image on the blank paper creates a dual framed effect. Some wrinkles in the paper are visible close to the image itself.

Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1876–1945)
Self-Portrait at a Table
Etching and aquatint
10 3/4 x 8 3/8 in. (28.3 x 21.2 cm)
Bequest of Prof. Paul O. Kristeller (2000.03.006)

Käthe Kollwitz is best known for her print series The Weavers and Peasant War, both of which illustrate the struggles of impoverished proletariats. In contrast to these series and other prints within the exhibition, this print, an etching and aquatint, shifts the focus from the communal toward the individual, in this case, Kollwitz herself. Dramatic chiaroscuro, the result of hundreds of hatch marks, carves out her weary features, lit only by the lamp hanging above the table. Meeting her direct gaze, one glimpses the exhausting effects of daily life, motherhood, and lifelong grief. The only work by a woman featured in this exhibition, Kollwitz’s print reminds us that although women are a large part of the global artistic community, they still remain under-represented in collections and exhibitions. Fiona Vaccaro Pratt

Image Description

Captured with expressive and distinctive lines, six people, four men, a woman, and a child, sit in a pub in this black and off-white, horizontal etching. At the center, a man sitting on a bench gazes directly at us, leaning forward. His left arm rests on the table behind him and his right hand presses against his chest. His legs are splayed open and disappear into empty space below his knees. He wears a pageboy hat and a dark jacket. Another man sits slightly in front of the central man to our left. His body is turned to our right, his face in profile and almost entirely in shadow. The absence of lines on his crown suggests that he wears a hat. He also wears a coat, vest, and bowtie. He places his right hand on the edge of his coat, and relaxes the other on his thigh where his legs, like his neighbor’s, disappear into empty space. Between the two men, a third is shown behind the table from the chest up. He looks off toward the left with his fist at his chin. A fourth man sits in profile on the other side of the table just to the right of the central man. Shown from the waist up, he faces the right and smokes from a thin pipe. The suggested head of a child rises just above the table further right, their features created by lines of shadow. Where the edge of the table simply vanishes, a woman’s head and chest float in space, as if emerging from the blank paper. A thick mug sits atop the table near the central man’s hand. From left to right, the composition’s detail devolves and grows lighter until only blank space remains, primarily in the top right and most of the bottom. The artist signs and dates the print, “Whistler/ 1859” at an angle in the lower right corner. A rectangular border of lighter blank paper surrounds the image, discolored along the right and bottom edges.

James A. McNeill Whistler (American, 1834–1903)
Etching and drypoint
Plate: 6 x 8 13/16 in. (15.2 x 22.3 cm)
Sheet: 8 1/2 x 10 9/16 in. (21.7 x 26.7 cm)
The Frederick Keppel Memorial Collection (C00.1796.39)

American-born artist James A. McNeill Whistler, best-known for his tonal paintings, was also a prominent figure in nineteenth-century European printmaking. Upon moving to London in 1859, Whistler lived along the banks of the Thames, where he witnessed longshoremen working arduous hours on the docks. His gestural and scratch-like linework conveys the materiality of the etching and drypoint processes as he captures the leisurely pleasure of a drink and a conversation, a communal reprieve after strenuous labor. One can almost hear the ebb and flow of pub chatter in the lines themselves. While most figures appear detached in the scene, one longshoreman in the center leans toward the viewer, as if in invitation. At the bottom, Whistler leaves space for the viewer to pull up a chair and join the conversation. Marlis Flinn

Image Description

A man and woman kneel to play a dice game in this vertical woodblock print. The lovers both have ink-black hair, long faces, and small features, their skin left uncolored to reveal the off-white shade of the paper. The man hunches slightly on the left side of the image and faces the woman on the right, half of his body out of the frame. He wears a black kimono with a white, grid design over a peach and white juban or undergarment. His gossamer jacket, a haori, is simple with olive green around the end of the sleeves. His hair is pulled back on either side into a voluminous, elliptical bun at the top of his head. The woman sits slightly higher than her partner, her gaze directed down toward him. She wears a light pink kimono with a darker pink collar over a white juban. The end of her kimono transitions to a pale, almost imperceivable pink decorated with pink flowers and olive-green leaves. An olive-green obi, or sash, with a darker pink floral design ties around her waist. Her hair is intricately styled with several yellow and white combs and pins. A pink bow is pinned right above her forehead, and a leaf-shaped clip attaches to her large, flattened bun. A wine-colored gameboard in the shape of a long, rectangular box occupies the space between the pair. The end closest to us is black with a hole for a handle. On the playing surface, black lines create two columns with empty space in between, and small circles of black and white serve as tokens. More tokens lie on the ground between the game and the man’s robe. The man holds a single die between his left thumb and forefinger against the box’s surface. A second die rests just next to his fingers. The palm of his other hand presses against the top of a yellow cylinder at the upper left corner of the gameboard. The woman wraps her right hand around the cylinder’s bottom, crossing under the man’s wrist, while her left hand bends at the wrist to support her chin. The background is a translucent wash of grey ink. A circle in the upper lefthand corner shows an entirely different scene of a landscape with some trees, pink and yellow buildings, and a mountain. A banner with Japanese characters in black ink runs down the right side of the circular window. It reads, “Ōmi hakkei” translated to “eight scenes of meetings, homophonous to eight views of Ōmi Province.” More script runs along the right edge. The top reads, “Oshichi Kichisaburō no banshō” translated to “Oshichi and Kichisaburō at the gameboard.” And just below: “Utamaro-hitsu,” translated to “by Utamaro; the Yamamoto crest of Ōmiya publishing house.”

Kitagawa Utamaro (Japanese, 1753–1806), published by Takatsuya Isuke
Oshichi and Kichisaburō at the Gameboard (Oshichi Kichisaburō No Banshō)
From the series Eight Scenes of Meetings (Ōmi Hakkei)
Ca. 1800, Edo period
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
14 7/8 x 10 in. (37.7 x 25.4 cm)
The Stebbins Memorial Collection (C00.1755.045)

This print comes from a series depicting eight historical pairs of lovers. Here, Oshichi plays backgammon with her lover, Kichisaburo, whom she met when she evacuated Edo on the occasion of a city-wide fire in 1682. Following their separation, she set her house on fire, hoping to see Kichisaburo again; instead, she was executed for arson. This romantic tragedy was subsequently reimagined with theatrical adaptations and printed materials appreciated by Edo townsmen. In the case of this print, the publisher, who overlooked production and sales, asked the artist Utamaro to depict the famous couple using his signature style, characterized by elongated faces and sensual interactions between the protagonists. The lucrative business around this century-old love story testifies to its importance in the collective memory of Edo’s citizens. Yaying Bai

Image Description

Shown in profile, a woman sits on a wicker chair with her body turned to our left, seemingly in conversation with an elderly man standing on the left and facing her in this black and off-white, horizontal engraving. The woman’s features are large and angular, and her neck almost strains to meet the man’s gaze. Her curls are pulled back with braids. She wears a long, loose robe, laced across her stomach, and open-toed sandals. Her hands extend slightly from her lap and make L shapes with both thumbs and forefingers as if pointing to something. Her left foot rests on a stack of books labeled LIBANIUS and ARISTOTELES across their pages. Three more books lean against these to the left and read, from left to right, GORGIAS, LUCIANUS, and ZENON. Several animals surround the woman, including two frogs, one on the books and one in the chair’s shadow, two birds, one on the back of her chair and the other on her head, and an eel wrapped around her left arm. The man has a heavy brow, hooked nose, curly hair, and equally curly beard. He wears a large robe with long drapery over both shoulders. With his right hand, he points toward the woman, mimicking her gesture. His other hand rests on his hip, elbow bent. The pair, which almost entirely fills the frame, is located in front of a brick or stone wall. A ledge at the height of the woman’s head stretches across the top of the composition, exposing a sliver of sky beyond. A squat, round vessel with a thin stem sits upon it, in the space between the man and woman. On a single stone along the wall, in line with the woman’s head, is the word DIALECTICA. Inscribed in a box like a plaque in the upper left corner are the words: FRANC. FLORVS / PINXIT IN SVB.VR- / BANO. NICOLAI / IONGELINC PROPE / VRBEM ANVERPIA / HIERONYMVS / COQVVS EXCVDEBAT / 1565. Empty space at the bottom reads: VTI HOMINEM RATIONE DOCET DIALECTICA QVARE / MERITO ARTIVM APICEM MAGNVS HANC PLATO VOCAT. The printer has signed his name “Floris” in a lighter ink in the lower right corner. The entire image is constructed with individual lines that are built up in shadows and absent in lighted areas.

Cornelis Cort (Dutch, 1533?–1578), after Frans Floris (Flemish, ca. 1519–1570), published by Hieronymus Cock
Dialectic, from the series The Seven Liberal Arts (Allegory of Philosophy)
9 x 11 1/8 in. (22.8 x 28.5 cm)
Bequest of Prof. Paul O. Kristeller (2000.03.005)

This engraving portrays the female allegorical personification of dialectic in conversation with a male philosopher. The image was designed by Cornelis Cort after a painting by Frans Floris that belonged to a series of seven oil panels depicting the liberal arts, created around 1557 for the suburban villa of the Antwerp merchant and art collector Nicolaes Jonghelinck. The choice of this particular theme, traditionally favored by the nobility for its association with knowledge and virtue, alludes to the self-fashioning of the socially-aspiring Jonghelinck. A collaborative effort, as evidenced in the upper-left Latin inscription that explicitly refers to the commissioning context, this print served as a mobile and reproducible vehicle for displaying the patron’s intellectual sophistication and Floris’s artistic novelty, enabled further through wide dissemination by the publisher Hieronymous Cock. Helena Seo

Image Description

Represented in a texture like graphite, two elderly men with pale complexions in identical long, dark robes share a box of tobacco in an indiscriminate space in this black and eggshell-white, vertical lithograph. They stand close together at the center of the scene, facing each other. Both wear white collars and tall, rectangular black hats. The man to our right has feathery, shoulder-length hair and hunches forward slightly. He offers his companion the tobacco, held slightly in front of his stomach, covering most of the bowl with his hands. Under his arm close to us, he pins a set of papers to his side. The second man has short, white hair and fewer lines on his face. With his right hand, close to us, he picks from the top of the box, his thumb pressed to forefinger. Crosshatched shading in the background suggests a bright, white wall which frames their interaction from about the waist up. Grid lines on the floor indicate large tiles. A thin, black line separates the image from the rest of the paper, while a wider line of discoloration borders it. Several inscriptions in French occupy the empty space within the discoloration. At the top center an inscription reads LES GENS DE JUSTICE. The number 8 is printed just above the upper right corner. Below the image in the left corner are the words “Chez Aubert Pl. de la Bourse, 29.” Text in the right corner reads “Imp. D.Aubert & Cie.” Dialogue fills the rest of the space below the image: Comme je vous ai bien dit vertement votre fait !/Mais aussi, que je vous ai cruement riposté les choses les plus désagréables !/Nous avons été beaux !/ Nous avons été magnifiques ! Ce n’est réellement qu’au Palais qu’on connait la manière de se disputer et de s’en dire de toutes les couleurs sans se fâcher ! “LD 1344” is written in pencil along the bottom right edge of the paper.

Honoré Daumier (French, 1808–1879), published by D'Aubert & Cie.
Les Gens de Justice, Plate 8
First published 1845; republished 1847
12 15/16 x 9 1/2 in. (31.7 x 24 cm)
Bequest of Judge Joseph Meyer Proskauer (1971.02.014)

Political satire and caricature gained new momentum in nineteenth-century France, as exemplified by Honoré Daumier’s scathing critiques of the government, the bourgeoisie, and the corrupt judicial system. In this lithograph from his Gens de Justice series, Daumier satirizes two egotistical lawyers who compliment the viciousness of each other’s performances in court. Entirely oblivious to the importance of their roles in upholding justice, the lawyers bask in their intellectual and social superiority, which they believe they have presented to the courtroom in an elaborate act of argumentative performance. Daumier’s work is a powerful example of political and social expression in visual culture. Such strong imagery challenged the government of King Louis-Philippe, which initially championed universal freedom of expression but eventually reverted to censorship and its criminal prosecution. Kristin Toms

Image Description

Two dynamic men dressed as warriors, one standing and one kneeling, fill the majority of this vertical woodblock print. The kneeling man’s face, the color of the paper, is long and rounded, with two faint, almost imperceptible, peach-colored lines that travel from either side of his temple to the bridge of the nose and each eye. His hair is black, combed on the sides, shaved on top, and tied in a black and white bun at the back. With his left hand, on our right, he grasps a sheathed sword just below hilt, extended away from his body. A second sword hangs horizontally behind his back. His opposite hand holds the end of a bouquet of three white and yellow flowers. The standing man’s complexion is contrastingly colored with peachy ink. His mouth is open slightly, and two lines of a darker peach encircle both temples and extend over his open eyes. He raises a sword over his head, held by the hilt in his right hand, while slowly unsheathing it with the left. His hair varies slightly from his companion’s: it appears combed up on the side, and he has long sideburns. His arms bend at the elbows. Like the other man, a second sword protrudes horizontally at his waist. They both wear men’s kimonos for the Kabuki theater. In shades of olive-green, brick-red, and peach, the pattern on the kneeling man’s kimono appears to be either abalone or eyes of peacock feathers, organized into hexagons. A black obi, or sash, wraps around his waist. The standing man wears a kimono decorated with bamboo featuring red and white stalks and green leaves with a peach obi. Both kimonos have peach linings. Various Japanese characters are inscribed in the empty space around the men. The lower left seal cites Maruya Jinpachi as the publisher. In yellow banners at the upper right, the men are identified as Matsumoto Kōshirō and Sukedakaya Takasuke. Just below is artist’s name, Toyokuni-ga.

Utagawa Toyokuni I (Japanese, 1769–1825)
Published by Maruya Jinpachi
Two Kabuki Actors: Matsumoto Kōshirō V and Sukedakaya Takasuke II
Ca. 1804–05, Edo period
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
14 1/4 x 9 3/4 in. (36.1 x 24.7 cm)
The Stebbins Memorial Collection (C00.1755.056)

Two Kabuki actors stand together, frozen in dramatic poses, during a performance that took place in 1804 at the Ichimura theater in Edo. Utagawa Toyokuni I, a prolific creator of actor images, presents here the likeness (nigao) of two historical performers. The use of woodblock printing in this period to depict real actors with features recognizable to fans brought together communities of performers, theater-goers, artists, printers, and publishers alike. Kabuki, the period’s most popular form of drama, appealed to everyone with its colorful performances involving dance, song, and other entertainments. Toyokuni gives the viewer nigao-e, literally “a picture that resembles the face,” and in doing so brought the actors to life in new ways that were and still are appreciated by audiences. Walsh Millette

Image Description

Thick, painterly strokes of red, burgundy, and tan among other colors construct an abstracted human form in this vertical lithograph. Seemingly floating against a grey background, the person appears to face us while looking to our right, their face in profile. Their head is angular with a brushed, blue cone shape on top. Single strokes of eggplant-purple indicate an eye, nostrils, and a gaping mouth in profile and turned to our right. They hold their primarily dark grey and purple arms above their head to create a continuous square shape, connected such that wrists and forearms blend into one another without the indication of hands. With their right knee, on our left, bent, and the other leg extended and exiting at the right edge of the composition, the person takes on the form of a dancer. Strokes of lighter grey are visible under their arm to the right and on either side of their legs. Loose and short horizontal lines in purple are stacked in empty space along the right side. The composition sits on a fibrous, almost pearly white paper with a larger border at the bottom. There, the print’s number appears in pencil in Roman numerals: V/LXX. Also in pencil, the artist signs his name, “DA Siqueiros.”

David Alfaro Siqueiros (Mexican, 1896–1974)
Untitled, from the portfolio Prison Fantasies
Lithograph on Japanese Washi paper
21 7/8 x 15 in. (55.6 x 38.1 cm)
Gift of the Mitura Family (2015.12.000)

David Alfaro Siqueiros, one of the leaders of the modern Mexican art movement alongside Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, is best known for his mural work. This 1973 lithograph is one of twelve prints comprising the series Prison Fantasies, created after the artist was released from prison for political activity criticizing government oppression in Mexico. Inspired by the experience of confinement and activism on his behalf, the powerful gesture and vibrant hues within this work are exemplary of the artist’s efforts to incite collective action in the Mexican people. From a stylistic standpoint, the lithograph’s liberal, action-driven brushwork, testing the limits of figurative abstraction, veers from the artist’s earlier, social-realist practice. Leah Glimcher

Image Description

Set in an idyllic landscape, a nearly nude man and woman sit, intertwined, upon rocks in the company of a winged child in this black and off-white, vertical engraving and etching. The woman leans to our left, her face in profile facing the man to the right. She has shoulder-length, unkempt hair and wears nothing but an animal skin like a cape, knotted between her breasts. The animal’s paw is draped strategically across her lap. She grasps the top of a long, thick wooden staff with her right hand, which seemingly supports some of her weight. Her other hand wraps behind the man’s back and rests on his left shoulder. Her legs straddle the man’s closer, extended leg. The man meets her gaze. His hair and beard are short and curly. He crosses his right arm over his bare, muscular chest, fingers splayed. In his left hand, he holds a tambourine. A long, dark cloth runs from behind his back, covers his waist, drapes over his bent, left elbow, and falls to the ground. His left knee bends in and under him. Behind the pair on the left side of the composition is a low, stone wall with a single, rectangular column that fills the space between the woman and the man. Where the column and wall meet, the cupid-like child observes the scene. His hair is short and wavy. One arm reaches across the column while the other bends back into his shoulder, a bow clutched in his fist. His wings almost entirely blend into the tree behind him. Another tree grows on the right, its leaves partially obscured by the tambourine. Mountains line the bit of horizon visible in the distance, and soft clouds fill the sky. The line marks that build the image appear grid-like when scrutinized. A border textured with perpendicular lines acts like a frame around the image while leaving blank paper around the edges. Just below the frame in the lower left corner an inscription reads “Ann Caracci pinx,” and text in the opposite corner reads, “Petrus Bettelini sculp.” In the larger empty space at the bottom of the page is an inscription in Latin: Hercules muliebribus oblectamentis indulgens leonis exvvias et clauam Jole cessit quibus ipsa superbit. / ex pictura Hannibalis Carracci Romae in aedibus farnesianis / Romae apud Montagnani ad Pafquinum.

Pietro Bettelini (Swiss/Italian, 1763–1829)
After Annibale Carracci (Italian, 1560–1609)
Published by Pietro Paolo Montagnani-Mirabili 
Hercules and Iole
Late 18th- to early 19th-century
Engraving and etching
Plate: 13 3/4 x 10 in. (35.2 x 25.6 cm)
Sheet: 14 5/8 x 11 3/16 in. (27.2 x 28.4 cm)
Gift to Columbia University (C00.1274)

This print is the product of an indirect collaboration: engraved in the late eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century by Pietro Bettelini, it reproduces a fresco from the Farnese Gallery painted in the sixteenth century by Annibale Carracci. Prints after these frescoes were widely produced, which allowed them to circulate throughout Europe in educated circles, building a commonly shared visual culture. In this print, Hercules is shown playing the tambourine and wearing feminine clothes. He has surrendered his traditional attributes—the club and the lion’s fur—to his lover Iole. To contemporary viewers, this inversion of gendered roles would have been perceived as comical and emasculating. The comparison with the fresco reveals the transformation from color to monochrome, large to small, and the painted surface to a dense network of geometric engraved lines. Lila Wickers-Levy

Image Description

Situated in a comparatively large piece of off-white paper, three nude women sit on a scarlet pillow seemingly floating in space in this horizontal lithograph. Their heads are proportionally small compared to their round bodies, their facial features indicated with heavy, charcoal-black lines and their bodies similarly outlined. They all turn slightly to our right. The woman on the left sits just apart from the other two, a sliver of space between her and her companions. Her body is primarily the color of the paper with heavy, visible lines of shading along her left side and layered with a sandy yellow. She rests her hands in her lap, one wrapped around the other. Her right arm, on our left, pins a cloth to her right thigh, obscuring it. She appears to look down, her hair like a misshapen halo behind her head. The woman in the center is the most colorful of the trio. The shading lines on her body are softer; darker shadows are overlayed with red, medium shades with green, lighter shades with yellow, and highlights are left white. Her hair is either short or pulled back, constructed with soft lines of black, blue, and purple. She places her hands on corresponding knees. Her body obscures the right side of the third woman, who turns her torso slightly toward the others. Most of this woman’s body is brushed with a pale orange. Notably, her left cheek, on our right, is the same red as the pillow. Her hair is yellow and curled above her forehead. The edge of the composition cuts their bodies off at their shins. The space around them is mostly blank with a green to yellow to orange gradation at their backs. A teal rectangle near the top behind the two rightmost women suggests the bottom of a window. In the lower right corner, the artist has signed and dated the platemark of the print in black: “Le Corbusier/ 1936.” He also signed his name in pencil on the right of the page just beneath the platemark. The print is numbered 25/100 just below the plate line on the left side. A faint, clean line of discoloration is visible around the edge of the paper.

Le Corbusier (Swiss, 1887–1965)
Three Nudes
Lithograph on Arches paper
15 1/4 x 20 in. (38.7 x 50.8 cm)
Gift of Michael Sillerman (C00.1855.01)

Though Le Corbusier is mostly known for his architectural work, he also designed and produced textiles, furniture, and prints. This lithograph was created while he was commissioned to redesign the city of Algiers between 1931 and 1942, as France was preparing to celebrate the centennial of its occupation of Algeria. During his time in Algiers, Le Corbusier filled three sketchbooks with nude studies of Algerian women, including this sketch picturing six women wearing head scarves and congregated around a tent. In contrast, the three nude figures in the lithograph do not include such details, but the work still belongs to a broader nexus of Orientalist art, colonial visual culture, and forced contact. Ariadne Diogenous

Image Description

In this black and off-white, horizontal engraving, a collection of numbered sketches and illustrations arranged in a grid surround an image of a courtyard filled with stone statues. This central image is framed by a thin line of black to form a cartouche, which takes the shape of a rectangle with a small arch at the middle of the top border. Many of the statues depict the human body, primarily in the nude. Closest to us, a narrow ledge extends into the scene. Upon it, to the left rests a diagram of a single leg’s musculature and a boot, and to the right, a scroll of paper open to three different representations of almost cartoonish people. A carved muscular back, bent slightly to our left, sits at the center beyond the ledge. Its rectangular base reads, translated from Greek, “Apollonios, son of Nestor.” Behind it stands a sculpture representing a woman in profile on a simple, cylindrical pedestal. A small sphinx on a shallow base sits in front just to the left. These are just a few among others sculptures. Several people populate the courtyard as well. One man with long, bushy hair and a wide skirt faces away from us while overseeing the raising of a statue on the right near the back. The statue faces a brick wall, so its face is obscured, yet it appears to be the figure of a man wearing a cape attached to his shoulders and a wreath around his head, a scroll or baton held in his left hand. A rope around his neck it attached to both a pully just above his head and scaffolding to the right. Further right, another man sits on a tall, decorated platform. His hair resembles that of the other man, though he wears long robes and writes on a scroll, quill in hand. A nude, partially obscured cherub sits by his feet. A third man observes a book of anatomy near the bottom right, and a fourth stands further back on the left, admiring a sculpture of a nude man. A gate in the near distance and situated between two buildings opens on to the courtyard. The bordering illustrations occupy individual boxes and include everyday objects like candle sticks, bells, drapery, and plants. Two sequences at the bottom demonstrate the evolution of a corset from straight to curved on the left and the devolution in detail of a face on the right. Each figure, sculpture, and illustration is numbered seemingly arbitrarily, though neighboring illustrations share consecutive numbering in clusters. For example, the sequence of corsets is labeled one through seven yet the portraits immediately following start at 97 and end at 104. Upon closer inspection, the image is constructed with individual lines that are built up in shadows and absent in lighted areas. A thin, double line frames the entire print. An inscription at the top middle reads “ANALYSIS of T BEAUTY, Plate I.” The “T” is circled. A circled “B” mirrors the “T” on the bottom. Text is also inscribed in the bottom right: Designed, Engraved, and Published by Wm. Hogarth, March 5th 1753, according to Art of Parliament.

William Hogarth(British, 1697–1764)
The Analysis of Beauty, Plate I
Engraving and etching on Whatman paper, third state
Plate: 15 3/8 x 19 3/4 in. (39.1 x 50. 3 cm)
Sheet: 18 5/8 x 24 1/4 in. (47.3 x 61.7 cm)
Gift to Columbia University (C00.1184)
Image Description

A collection of numbered sketches and illustrations arranged in a grid surround an image of people dancing in an extravagant ballroom in this black and off-white, horizontal engraving. The central image is framed by a thin line of black to form a cartouche, which takes the shape of a rectangle with a small arch at the middle of the top border. Men and woman dance in pairs across a horizontal line through the scene, dressed in formal clothing and long, opulent dresses typical of the eighteenth-century British elite. The women wear their hair pinned up in bonnets, and the men mostly wear their hair curled at the front and tied in the back. Standing in a shadowed area in the lower right corner, a seated man is helped by another to replace his wooden leg. Just behind them, a woman stands with her hand to her chest, facing the right. She passes a package behind her back to another woman. The seated man appears to observe them while pointing to a watch in his lap. A greyhound dog directs its snout up at the dancers near the seated man’s right foot. The room travels back toward the right in space. Along the wall, three individual portraits of kings and a queen hang between four statues of other royalty in arched alcoves. Three more circular medallions representing classical and renaissance profiles hang above the three furthest statues. A single candle is lit between each, and a chandelier of candles drops down from the curve in the top of the frame. Two musicians play a violin and flute of sorts from a balcony in the upper left corner. In the lower left corner, a collection of dark, tricorn hats are scattered on the floor. The bordering illustrations occupy individual boxes and include shaded gradients, anatomy, and curving lines among others. A sequence in the lower left demonstrates the aging of a woman from infant to elder. Each illustration and sketch, along with three royal portraits and statues, appear arbitrarily numbered, though neighboring illustrations share consecutive numbering in cluster. For example, the portraits progressing in age follow from 110 to 118, yet the next illustration of a cone is labeled 56. Upon closer inspection, the image is constructed with individual lines that are built up in shadows and absent in lighted areas. A thin, double line frames the entire print. An inscription at the top middle reads “ANALYSIS of T BEAUTY, Plate II.” The “T” is circled. A circled “B” mirrors the “T” at the bottom. Text is also inscribed at the bottom right: Designed, Engraved, and Published by Wm. Hogarth, March 5th 1753, according to Art of Parliament.

William Hogarth (British, 1697–1764)
The Analysis of Beauty, Plate II
Engraving and etching on Whatman paper, third state
Plate: 16 3/4 x 20 7/8 in. (42.5 x 53 cm)
Sheet: 18 1/2 x 24 7/16 in. (47 x 62.1 cm)
Gift to Columbia University (C00.1185)

William Hogarth created Plates I and II of The Analysis of Beauty to illustrate his aesthetic treatise by the same title that championed the serpentine line. In Plate I, Hogarth presents a courtyard of well-known classical sculptures, including the Medici Venus, the Farnese Hercules, and the Laocoön. At the foot of the Farnese Hercules, the straight-standing figure of the dancing master is juxtaposed with the swaying statue of the Antinous, whose form suggests liveliness and movement. Framing the central scene is an assortment of everyday objects, such as candlesticks and floral imagery, to encourage the common person of Hogarth’s day to participate in the cultural debate on aesthetics, a topic previously reserved for the upper-class in Britain. Plate II extends his theories with an illustration of beauty and grace seen through dance. According to the artist, the human body presented itself in its most elegant form when dancing the minuet. As the dancers move, the curves of their bodies become models for the portrayal of the serpentine line. By applying the beauty of the serpentine line to bodies practicing a dance familiar to contemporaries, Hogarth sought to rally the latter to his ideas on aesthetics. Yasemin Aykan and Daniel Choi

Image Description

Four people emerge from black ink amid expressive white lines in an abstracted dancing scene in this high-contrast, horizontal woodcut print. The silhouettes of three central people create a triangle of sorts, which consumes most of the image. On the left, a body takes the shape of a backwards, capital R, beginning at the bottom of the image and almost touching the top. The person appears to hold a circle covered in small white dashes half way through their right side. A shape like a whale’s tail attached at the top suggests a head, marked with a white “X” where the forehead might be. Further right, the clearest form of a person dances. Their arms create an ellipse. They hold a circle between their hands. Straight lines stretch from either side of their head like hair. One leg stands on the ground while the other kicks back to the right. In the space below, at the point of the imagined triangle, the head and torso of a third person emerge from the bottom edge. They appear to face away from us, with small crosses decorating the back of their head. Further right and near the bottom, two candles burn in a flat, round vessel under the previous dancer’s lifted leg. And on the right edge, the silhouetted image of a fourth body, an arm and leg perhaps, blends into the black line bordering the image. White lines carved out from the background follow the dancers’ movements in varying lengths and thicknesses. They become more stippled to indicate ground and longer in the sky. A crescent moon floats in the upper right corner. Blank, white paper frames the image. Several pencil markings are visible just below the print. It is numbered and dated below the left corner: 17/25, 1983. In the lower middle, the title reads “GNAWA’S DANCE.” And the artist signs his full name, “Michael Kelly Williams,” at the lower right.

Michael Kelly Williams (American, b. 1950)
Gnawa’s Dance
15 x 22 1/2 in. (38 x 57.1 cm)
Gift of the artist (2017.12.004)

New York-based multimedia artist Michael Kelly Williams has stated that he often has music in mind when he sets out to create works of art. As part of his ongoing creative engagement with the African Diaspora, the Detroit native has depicted musical communities around the globe. In this woodcut, Williams pictorially explores the movements and rhythms associated with Morocco’s Gnawa culture, which encompasses a range of secular and Islamic rituals and performances. Other works by the artist have dealt with communities closer to home, treating topics such as Harlem’s jazz culture and the threat gentrification poses to its continued existence. As in Gnawa’s Dance, these representations stress the power of music to bring people toward one another, to create community in the universality of song. Sarah-Rose Hansen