Mary Ryan Gallery is pleased to present "Big 80s," an exhibition of large-format prints. These works, all executed in the 1980s, encompass a range of artistic movements, from Neo-Expressionism to Minimalism and explore a variety of printmaking processes. The 1980s saw a rekindled interest in printmaking and produced remarkably ambitious works that broadened notions of both scale and medium. This exhibition focuses on these enduring and now iconic works. Artists include: Chuck Close, Enzo Cucchi, Eric Fischl, Yvonne Jacquette, Donald Judd, Robert Longo, Brice Marden, Michael Mazur, Richard Serra, and Frank Stella.
The burgeoning affluence of the 1980s gave way to massive expansion in the art market, encouraging artists to work on a larger, less domestic scale. During this time, printers like Kathan Brown of Crown Point Press, Kenneth Tyler of Tyler Graphics, and Sidney Felsen of Gemini G.E.L. helped push the boundaries of printmaking. The collaborative spirit of the print workshop facilitated adventurous experimentation by conflating old techniques with new approaches and technologies such as paper pulp, hydraulic presses and laser imaging. The resulting prints reached new levels of complexity and were often monumental in scale.
Featured in the first gallery is Eric Fischl's iconic, "The Year of the Drowned Dog." Comprised of six irregularly-shaped intaglio prints, this work employs a variety of techniques: sugar-lift aquatint, soft-ground etching and scraping in colors. Because of its puzzle-like nature, the figures in each section of the piece inhabit their own psychological space, thereby informing the overall narrative of a disquieting incident. Also on display in the first gallery is Michael Mazur's "Wakeby Day" triptych, which similarly combines a variety of printmaking techniques: lithograph, wood block and monotype. This edition was printed with Judith Solodkin and is based on a much larger version of the work, which was part of a commission of six monotypes for the Committee on the Visual Arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Inspired by Wakeby Pond, Cape Cod, where Mazur summered with his wife, this print showcases the artist's vast knowledge of the medium and his penchant for experimentation. In Robert Longo's "Larry," a classic piece from his "Men in the Cities" series, the oversized scale elicits a cinematic effect. Typical of these works, the suit-clad figure's pose is ambiguous, caught between dancing, falling, or moment of impact. Other works on view in the exhibition, all on a grand scale, also explore a range of stylistic approaches and printmaking techniques that not only extended the concept of printmaking, but ultimately paved the way for a new generation of contemporary artists.