Newark Public Library Showcases Its
Important Art Collection of Fine Prints
Hundreds of the Newark Public Library’s most important and interesting prints, both contemporary and traditional, are on display, many for the first time ever, in the Main Library’s public galleries from November 14, 2007 through January 12, 2008.
As different in subject matter and rendering as they can be and from traditional etchings to silk screens and digital works, the Newark Public Library’s late autumn exhibition includes graphic works carefully selected from the institution’s outstanding collection of works of art on paper. Each print has been created directly by the artist and signed, editioned and sometimes titled and dated.
A companion exhibit, with works on loan from the Newark Public Library, runs simultaneously in the Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers-Newark. While the Library exhibit embraces the progression of printmaking, the Robeson Galleries selection covers 20th Century prints, emphasizing works by contemporary artists.
“This gala celebration and collaboration between these two significant and historic Newark institutions allows us to display the true diversity and scope of our collection of fine prints,” said Wilma J. Grey, Library Director. “It’s been years since we showcased our works, and we have new prints that are already significant in the art world.”
The opening reception for the exhibit “The World in Prints: An International Survey of Graphic Arts, Contemporary and Historic,” is scheduled for Wednesday, November 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Centennial Hall at the Main Library, 5 Washington Street, Newark.
The Library has long been a repository for many artifacts not just books, said Grey. “Our special collections encompass the depth and breadth of the artistic movements of the last two centuries from realism to expressionism, early abstract to pop art, op art and everything in between,” she said, noting that the Library has embraced and added examples of each movement to its collection.
“We are showing a chronological sampling of prints; from the late 16th century to the 21st century. Some of the prints are literally fresh off the press,” said William J. Dane, the Library’s Keeper of Works of Art on Paper and curator of this show.
“We are featuring works by artists of various ethnicities, men and women, western and nonwestern. Honoring the spirit of Paul Robeson, we will show some works demonstrating social awareness or a sense of social responsibility, in addition to those more abstract and whimsical,” said Jorge Daniel Veneciano, director of the Paul Robeson Galleries and curator of the Rutgers exhibit.
The exhibit at the Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers Newark, 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard opens Nov. 8. A reception is scheduled between 4 and 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 15, 2007. The exhibit runs through Jan. 24, 2008, and is free and open to the public during gallery hours.
As supervising librarian and collection steward, Dane works within a budget. To benefit the Library, he cannot dedicate the entire year’s sum to one or two works from an important artist. Rather he must select a piece that he feels will appreciate in value as an artist gains renown, or one that best represents a medium, such as a fine example of a steel engraving or a lithograph, silk-screen, or mixed media.
The initial impetus to collect prints was started at The Newark Public Library by John Cotton Dana, director from 1901 to 1929. Dana was fascinated not just by the final print, but also by the process and the tools used by printmakers. At the time, many of the tools were relatively basic and somewhat limited the scope of what the artist could render onto paper.
New technologies expanded printmaking to where works can be as large as the artist’s imagination and as colorful as a painter’s palette.
With the encouragement of the Library’s director and its Board of Trustees, the staff has been expanding the collection in recent years.
“We look for art that is affordable, but at the same time has the potential to gain in long-term value. Art that enhances the entire graphic arts collection or is truly representative of a genre or medium,” said Dane.
“Over a span of generations and decades, many generous donations of individual prints have been made by the artists themselves as well as by collectors wishing to share their graphic treasures with a large audience in a free institution such as our library. These gifts, which sometimes include additional funding, have helped beyond measure to create this superb, unique and remarkable graphic arts treasure trove located in the Special Collections,” Dane commented.
“World in Prints: An International Survey of Graphic Arts, Contemporary and Historic,“ is funded, in part, by a grant from the International Fine Print Dealers Association.
“Speaking of Prints,” a free public program with presentations and gallery tours, will be held at the Newark Public Library on Monday, December 3, 2007 from 2 to 4 p.m. Hilda Werschkul, PhD, art historian and adjunct professor at Montclair State University, will join Dane and Veneciano to discuss the contemporary print world.
The opening reception and other programs are free and open to the public. The exhibit is on view during regular library hours. For more information or to schedule a group tour at the Library, please call 973-733-7745. To view selected images and a check list of artists included in the exhibition please visit www.npl.org
For more information about the companion exhibit at Rutgers, Paul Robeson Galleries, or to arrange a group tour, please call the gallery at 973-353-1610 or for directions log on to http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/artgallery.
©2007 The Newark Public Library