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Works on Paper 1900 - 2013

In line with our policy of presenting different and varied exhibitions over the years we present a unique show of New Zealand works on paper covering over a 100 year ...

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In line with our policy of presenting different and varied exhibitions over the years we present a unique show of New Zealand works on paper covering over a 100 year time span. Printmaking has a wonderful history in New Zealand and leading New Zealand printmakers included Sir Henry Brett (1843 – 1927), Brett Printing and publishing company, Art in New Zealand magazine publisher Harry Tombs (1874 – 1966) and Leo Bensemann of Caxton Press (1912 – 1986), publisher of Landfall magazine and the short lived but excellent Ascent Art magazine in the 1960s.Two notable lithographic prints produced not long after the turn of the century were “Native Flowers of New Zealand” (1911) and Native Berries of New Zealand (1913) by Brett.  A framed and fine example of each of these prints is included in the exhibition.

While the strength of printmaking grew in stature in the golden age of printmaking from the turn of the century notable New Zealand artists who established themselves in this genre included E. Mervyn Taylor, Rona Dyer, Hilda Wiseman, Adele Younghusband, George Woods and Dame Louise Henderson. The origins of many of the early printmakers began with the establishment of the New Zealand School of Printmaking in 1916 (initiated by the Quoin Club). There is a fine representation of prints from several of these artists particularly prints made between 1930 and 1960 – probably the golden age of New Zealand Printmaking. Dame Louise Henderson was probably the most enduring printmaker producing fine prints throughout her long career (1902 – 1994). Henderson studied and worked in a graphic design studio in France in the 1920’s and this innovative printmaking and cubist design background influenced much of her art throughout a long career. One of the finest and largest prints Henderson completed was “Mother and Child”, an edition of 5 only. This rare 50’s print which was originally sold by us as her dealer in the early 1990’s is now offered for sale on behalf of a private collector.  The legacy of New Zealand printmaking was continued by artists such as Ralph Hotere, Mervyn Williams, Nigel Brown, Pat Hanly and many others from the 1960s.

The demand for original prints rode the crest of a tsunami in the 1970s and 1980s on the back of an unprecedented commercial and residential building boom. Some prints were churned out like sausages to satisfy this demand and they now have limited value. But those produced in limited editions by leading artists – say 10 to 50 have increased significantly. Many of these small editions were produced at Muka Studios in Ponsonby Auckland. Frans Baetens and Magda Van Gils established a lithographic printing press in stone for artists in 1984 and they still operate this today, having recently relocated to the South Island. Many fine prints were produced on this press by artists such as Pat Hanly, Tony Fomison, Gretchen Albrecht, Fatu Feu’u and Ralph Hotere. Muka’s youth print project initiated in 1987 is legendary.

With the high cost of framing materials and printmaking in general, original printmaking has waned somewhat. Other relatively recent forms of affordable art such as digital, photomechanical prints and photography have dominated the print market in the last decade. Works on paper are definitely more accessible than say original oil paintings, and the future for collecting quality prints and works on paper cannot be underestimated. American artist Andy Warhol produced series of prints which now sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In New Zealand, collectors are able to purchase works by leading New Zealand artists from a few hundred to a thousand dollars. Examples of this are offered in this exhibition where works on paper include artists such as Ralph Hotere, Jeffrey Harris, Nigel Brown, Richard Killeen, Fatu Feu’u, Dame Louise Henderson and Philippa Blair. Collecting prints and works on paper are also worth serious consideration not only for established collectors but new collectors, art collectives and those on a limited budget.

 

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