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"See America First: Prints by H.C. Westermann"
2001-06-28 until 2001-09-09
Smart Museum of Art
USA United States of America
The American sculptor, painter, draftsman and printmaker H.C. Westermann
(1922-1981) has for more than 40 years been regarded as a central figure in
American art of the postwar period. Drawing from a variety of sources, including his
own horrific war experiences during his service in World War II and the Korean War,
Westermanns charged and often autobiographical prints offer a personal vision of
America - one that captured the disillusionment of war, the fascination with
Hollywood, and the anxiety of the nuclear age.
Including approximately 90 prints, drawings, related works, woodcut blocks and
ephemera, the complete graphic works of H.C. Westermann will be exhibited
together and examined in depth as a coherent body for the first time in this
exhibition and in its accompanying catalogue raisonné. The exhibition will graphically
demonstrate both the artists working procedures in developing and executing his
prints, and the meticulous craftsmanship of his final works and related materials.
See America First will open Thursday, June 28, with a public reception Friday,
June 29, from 5 to 7:30 pm at the University of Chicagos Smart Museum of Art. The
opening reception will include a gallery talk at 5 pm, led by Smart Museum Senior
Curator Richard Born and Dennis Adrian, co-curators of the exhibition. The
exhibition will remain on view through September 9, and will be supplemented with a
variety of related public programming including a 10-week film series, a special
online teachers web site, and a full range of education programs.
The Smart Museums exhibition of H.C. Westermanns complete graphic works will
coincide with a retrospective exhibition devoted to the artists sculpture at the
Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, offering an unparalleled opportunity to
compare the relationships in style, subject and theme between the prints and
sculptural objects of this important postwar American artist, who came to national
attention while living and working in Chicago.
Westermann has often been characterized as an American original, someone who
steadfastly followed his own sensibility, unmindful of current art movements, and
outside the mainstream of contemporary American art, said Smart Museum Senior
Curator Richard Born. Nonetheless, many artists have acknowledged the impact of
his sculpture and graphic works and the example of his life on their own work.
His 15 years of printmaking activity, from 1962 to 1977, span more than half of his
mature artistic career. Four distinct periods of Westermanns graphic production will
be featured in the exhibition including his first lithograph series created in 1967 at
the Kansas City Art Institute; his lithograph series See America First (1968),
inspired by a cross country road trip; the Six Lithographs (1972) series printed at
Landfall Press in Chicago; and the portfolio of woodcuts, The Connecticut Ballroom
(1975-76), which feature his signature Death Ships imagery.