COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 5, 2022) — The life and work of artist Robert Blackburn, whose innovation and masterful expertise with the printmaking medium helped define the overall aesthetic of the American graphics boom, will be highlighted in a new Smithsonian exhibition opening at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College May 14, 2022.
“Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking,” curated by Deborah Cullen, is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in cooperation with the Trust for Robert Blackburn and The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts’ Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Program. The exhibition will be on view through August 7, 2022.
Blackburn was a key artist in the development of printmaking in the United States. He became known as an influential teacher and master printer, engaging with avant-garde artistic ideas while promoting a new collaborative approach to a traditional medium. The exhibition traces Blackburn’s artistic evolution alongside the original prints of other iconic 20th-century American artists with whom he collaborated.
Blackburn was born to Jamaican immigrants Dec. 10, 1920, and raised in Harlem, New York during the Harlem Renaissance, an unparalleled flourishing of the arts centered in New York City’s creative Black community. The arts were considered crucial to the well-being of society and a fertile medium for activism. These values resonated with Blackburn throughout his life and work. In 1947, he founded a printmaking workshop as a welcoming space where artists of any level could learn and create together; it remains in operation to this day. Blackburn’s art gradually shifted from figurative work to highly colored abstraction, creating a fascinating and engaging body of work.
“Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking” celebrates both the artist and the democratic, diverse, and creative community he built. It features approximately 60 works, including lithographs, woodcut, intaglio, and watercolors by Blackburn and the artists with whom he collaborated, including Grace Hartigan, Robert Rauschenberg, Elizabeth Catlett, and Romare Bearden, among others. The traveling exhibition is supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and funding from the Smithsonian’s Provost Office.
“We are excited to bring Robert Blackburn and Modern American Printmaking to the FAC Museum to present the work of this important and underrepresented artist and the network he helped create. The exhibition’s framework explores the exciting opportunities made possible by collaboration within artistic communities,” said Michael Christiano, Visual Arts & Museum Director, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.
Support for the Fine Arts Center exhibition is provided by the City of Colorado Springs, The Anschutz Foundation, Gazette Charities, and Colorado Creative Industries.
Robert Blackburn: Print Day
Saturday, June 11
A day of hands-on printmaking activities for the whole family. The event is free and open to the public.
VISIT THE FAC MUSEUM
Museum free days are offered the second Saturday and third Friday of each month.
The Ladyfingers Shop is open during regular museum hours with handmade, locally sourced and inclusive goods paired with a selection of items designed to expand and enrich your FAC experience.
PLEASE NOTE: Exposure to COVID-19 is possible in public places. The FAC and Colorado College continue to closely monitor developments in the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and plan for impacts that may affect FAC and campus operations. More information available on the Colorado College website. For the latest information on COVID guidelines and requirements, visit the FAC website.
About Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES)
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 70 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For more information, including exhibition descriptions and tour schedules, visit www.sites.si.edu.
ABOUT THE HENRY LUCE FOUNDATION
The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding. The foundation’s American Art Program, a leader in arts funding since 1982, supports museums, arts organizations, and universities, in their efforts to advance the understanding and experience of American and Native American visual arts through research, exhibitions, collection projects, and publications. For more information, visit www.hluce.org.
ABOUT THE FINE ARTS CENTER MUSEUM
The FAC Museum’s permanent collection of approx. 20,000 objects showcases the rich history and vibrant contemporary cultures of the Southwest and the Americas, containing works of art from Native America, Hispanic and Spanish Colonial New Mexico, and 20th and 21st-century America.
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College
The story of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College (FAC) began with the founding of the Broadmoor Art Academy 1919. A museum, performing arts theatre, and community art school, the FAC is a pillar in the cultural community of the Rocky Mountain West providing innovative, educational, and multi-disciplinary arts experiences designed to elevate the individual spirit and inspire community vitality. The FAC and Colorado College recognize and honor the original inhabitants of the land on which it resides. For more information about the FAC, visit fac.coloradocollege.edu or follow on Facebook @CSFineArtsCenter.