Graphic Arts Group

The Graphic Arts Group is convened by Ketty Gottardo and Esther Chadwick (The Courtauld), and by Olenka Horbatsch (The British Museum), and meets once a term to collectively examine and discuss works on paper from these two institutions, or at other London-based venues and occasionally abroad. The aim of the group is to examine prints and drawings, considered here in the broadest sense, both geographically and chronologically, and to investigate and discuss the materials, technologies, and cultural contexts of works on paper and graphic art.

About

History

The Graphic Arts Group originated in 2006 in conversations between Mark McDonald, then curator in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum and Patricia Rubin, at that time Head of the Courtauld Institute Research Forum. The aspiration was to provide a regular opportunity for those interested in the graphic arts, broadly defined, to meet and to engage in conversation around objects in the Print Room. GAG benefited from the generosity of the Department of Prints and Drawings in opening its treasures to the group, after opening hours, and owed everything to Mark McDonald’s commitment to sharing those resources in active engagement.

The group was open to students and staff from both institutions and to others with a special interest in prints and drawings. Participants were invited to suggest works and lead the discussion. As the sessions evolved, it was decided to set a broad theme. The conversational format fostered lively and informative exchange. The group composition was fluid and open, and it quickly attracted members with many different interests, revealing how central prints and drawings are to artistic practice and art historical understanding. The evenings always ended with supper at the local Turkish restaurant, where conversations continued. The connections between the members and their interests and their insights have informed research projects. Both founders are proud that GAG has continued and that its ethos of free and creative exchange has endured.

Patricia Rubin, Professor Emerita, The Institute of Fine Arts, NYU; Honorary Research Fellow, The Courtauld

Dr. Mark McDonald, Curator of Drawings and Prints, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Topics discussed

Academic Years:

 2020-21

-March 25, 2021: Reflections: contemporary art of the Middle East and North Africa. Artist’s books. Speaker: Dr Venetia Porter (webinar)

-November 5, 2020: Digitizing the Graphic Arts. Speakers: Antony Griffiths, Arielle Llupa, and Frank Ligterink (webinar)

2019-20

-November 14, 2019: visit to the of Deanna Petherbridge, London

-November 7, 2019: visit to Thumbprint Editions (printmaking studio in Camberwell, London)

-March 2020: Print Matrices: a cross-over session with the Courtauld’s Sculptural Processes Group at the British Museum (Cancelled due to the pandemic. We hope to reschedule for a future date!)

2018-19

-April 2019: visit to the British Museum’s Rembrandt: thinking on paper exhibition with curator Dr Olenka Horbatsch

-March 7, 2019:  Transformations (British Museum Print Room)

-Autumn 2018: visit to the Italian drawings exhibition The Realm of Possibilities

Italian Drawings of the 16th Century organised by the Kupferstichkabinett in Dresden at the Residenzschloss in Dresden; and visit to their print room to discuss further works on paper there

2017-8

-May 17, 2018: visit to the exhibition Artists at work (The Courtauld) led by its curators Deanna Petherbridge and Anita Sganzerla

-March 2-5, 2018: visit to the exhibition Art in the making (Copenhagen, Staatens Museum), led by its curator Chris Fischer

-November 23, 2017: Migrations, part II (British Museum Print Room)

2016 – 2017

-May 18, 2017: Migrations, part I (British Museum Print Room)

-March 2, 2017: Word and Image (The Courtauld)

-December 2016: Mis-en-page (British Museum Print Room)

2015 – 2016

-March 16, 2016: Botticelli and Treasures from the Hamilton Collection exhibition Tour (The Courtauld)

-October 1, 2015: Metalpoint (British Museum Print Room)

2014 – 2015

-May 14, 2015: Offset/Counterproof: Reversal and Duplication, part II; Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album exhibition Tour (The Courtauld)

-March 2, 2015: Offset/Counterproof: Reversal and Duplication, part I (British Museum Print Room)

-November 13, 2014: Drawing and sculpture

2013 – 2014

-February 27, 2014: Interventions: How Prints and Drawings are Modified, Used, Changed in the Course of their Lifetime, part II (British Museum Print Room)

-November 14, 2013: Interventions: How Prints and Drawings are Modified, Used, Changed in the Course of their Lifetime, part I (British Museum Print Room)

2012 – 2013

-March 21, 2013: Colour in Prints and Drawings, part II (British Museum Print Room)

-October 25, 2012: Colour in Prints and Drawings, part I (British Museum Print Room)

2011 – 2012

-April 26, 2012: Text in Drawings and Prints, part III (British Museum Print Room)

-February 23, 2012: Text in Drawings and Prints, part II (British Museum Print Room)

-October 13, 2011: Text in Drawings and Prints, part I (British Museum Print Room)

2010 – 2011

-March 24, 2011: Copies, part II (British Museum Print Room)

-September 16, 2010: Copies, part I (British Museum Print Room)

2009 – 2010

-July 1, 2010: How we talk about regional or local style and practice (British Museum Print Room)

-March 5, 2010: Attribution and authorship (British Museum Print Room)

-November 12, 2009: Caricature and the Grotesque, part II (British Museum Print Room)

2008 – 2009

-June 18, 2009: Caricature and the Grotesque, part I (British Museum Print Room)

-February 26, 2009: Graphic Arts and Picturing People, part II (British Museum Print Room)

-November 13, 2008: Graphic Arts and Picturing People, part I (British Museum Print Room)

2007 – 2008

-June 10, 2008: Plein Air (British Museum Print Room)

-March 6, 2008: Colour in Prints and Drawings, part I (British Museum Print Room)

-December 6, 2007: After Life, part II (British Museum Print Room)

2006 – 2007

-June 21, 2007: After Life, Part I (British Museum Print Room)

-March 22, 2007: Sculpture and the Graphic Arts, Part II (British Museum Print Room)

-November 23, 2006: Sculpture and the Graphic Arts, Part I (British Museum Print Room)

2005 – 2006

-June 6, 2006: Signs of Authorship: Signatures, Inscriptions, Marks (British Museum Print Room)

-March 23, 2006: Mix of topics based on individual research, including Artists’ Use of Sketchbooks and Modelbooks, the Practice of Imitation as a Learning Tool

-November 24, 2005: First Meeting

Special Visits

Autumn 2019

In November we visited two very different places, each providing lots of interesting material for discussion.

The first was a visit to https://www.thumbprinteditions.com/, an extraordinary printmaking studio located in south London. Here, its director Pete Kosowicz showed us several printmaking techniques performed by the studio: etching, drypoint intaglio, photo etching and relief printing. Artists such as Cornelia Parker, Tracey Emin and Antony Gormley work with Thumbprints to execute their prints. During our visit, we oversaw press machines in action, while a gorgeous print by Ian Davenport was magically coming into being. It was truly fascinating to see the phenomenal artistic input that printmakers have on the process making. As one of our colleagues noted “we learned that it is printers who know how best to deconstruct images, taking them apart layer by layer, only to stitch them back together again in the process of printing with a marvellous combination of delicacy and strength”.

Citations