Into the New

Being Human: From Pollock to Bourgeois

6 April to 17 July 2022

After more than twenty-five years, the Städel Museum once again dedicated an exhibition to American art on paper from 1945 to the present. Some fifty outstanding prints, drawings, and multiples by artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Chuck Close, Jim Dine, Jasper Johns, Bruce Nauman, Jackson Pollock, Larry Rivers, Kiki Smith, or Kara Walker were presented, all of which deal with the theme of being human.

American art of the past eighty years is full of boundary crossings and contradictions. It is as unconventional as it is multifaceted: Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Concept Art, Minimal and Performance Art. In a relatively short period of time after 1945, various and at times contradictory aesthetic concepts developed in New York and (later) on the West Coast. Artists chose their media and materials freely and strategically – depending on the message they wanted to convey. Printmaking played a key role in this context. As a laboratory for experimentation in form and content alike, it offered artists new possibilities. From the 1960s onward, this went hand in hand with the founding of new printing and paper workshops. Artists collaborated closely with these workshops to produce technically sophisticated prints and objects (multiples), often in self-confidently large formats. This printmaking revolution went down in art history as the ‘Graphic Boom’.

Under the influence of ever-new political, economic, and societal upheavals and crises, many of the works revolve around human existence itself. Naturalistic depictions of the human figure now give way to the sign-like and abstract, the incomplete, the imprint, the blank space. Artists reflect on human perception and experience as fragmentary and question language as an instrument for describing the world.

Curator: Dr. Regina Freyberger (Head of Prints and Drawings after 1750, Städel Museum)
Sponsors: The expansion of the collection of American prints at the Städel Museum is supported by the Heinz and Gisela Friederichs Foundation. The exhibition catalogue is supported by the Georg und Franziska Speyer’sche Hochschulstiftung.