History Distilled In Exhibition Posters - I
ARTWISE  EDITORIAL
November 2, 2017 


When an artist’s career spans many decades, art movements and locations around the globe, it can be disorienting to follow the wave of changes or evolutions swimming through time. One of the greatest features of the art poster world is the trail of exhibition posters, serving to contextualize a body of work in a geographic place, a time and even sometimes a cultural institution of significant note. When important museums organize a selection of work by a particular artist, their show posters represent a pinpoint marking the atmosphere of the art world at that moment, and further echoing the larger cultural motions of the world in general. These posters reflect a certain historical archive, part of a story told through curated selection, date, city, typography, color choices and more. More than just a print of a great artist’s work, they hold the flavor of whatever magic was circulating at the time, often the very same essences working to inspire the art in the first place.

For an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art showing Frank Stella’s work from 1967-1982, this show poster was created in 1983. Stella’s move to printmaking went hand in hand with the rise of the lithography revival in the United States since its development in the 1950s. This show represented the first encyclopedic exhibition of his oeuvre, as well as the first occasion to evaluate the printmaking accomplishments of this influential American painter.
Large Phil Fingerprint is a first edition exhibition poster for Chuck Close's "Close Portraits" show held at the Whitney from April 14 - June 21 in 1981. Hilton Kramer for The New York Times published a piece titled “Art View; Chuck Close’s Break With Photography” about this exhibition, remarking on influences of Pop Art, Minimalism and Abstraction of the 1960s and 70s, and Close’s relationship with the camera and the grid. This show seems to be referencing a publicly changing concept about realism in art, and what kinds of conversations such art was influencing and commenting on.
"These posters reflect a certain historical archive, part of a story told through curated selection, date, city, typography, color choices and more."
This silkscreen print was designed by Roy Lichtenstein for his first solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York from September 19 - November 16 in 1969. In the early 60s Lichtenstein was experimenting with and perfecting his most celebrated imagery, the comic book inspired work for which he has become famous. The late 60s saw his shift towards a series using his signature Ben-Day dots for a broader range of artistic exploration. His focus on geometry and line opened the doors for him to pursue interests in familiar architectural structures, patterns borrowed from Art Deco and other subtly evocative motifs. This exhibition poster not only alludes to his “dot” in its overall composition, but also uses a “V” in the place of a “U” in its typography, as is the case in many centuries-old stone architectural inscriptions, further displaying the supposedly outrageous discrepancy between old and new that his work was highlighting.
Exhibition Posters