The University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA) at UMass Amherst is honored to present Nicole Eisenman: Prince, the first museum exhibition to focus solely on her inventive and bold exploration of the print medium — lithographs, etchings, woodcuts, paper pulp prints, and monotypes. This exhibition provides a first glimpse into the range of the artist’s experimentation and deep engagement with printmaking.
Nicole Eisenman explores the human condition, with emotionally resonant, cartoonish figures, formed out of exaggerated, painterly lines and intense colors. Full of pathos and dark humor, they are expressionistic portraits of herself and her friends, or imagined characters based on her critical observations of everyday life and culture, combining representation and abstraction, caricature and the grotesque, gender instability and queerness. Eisenman’s figures seem isolated and contemplative — products of our time, reflections of ourselves.
This exhibition also shines a light on four innovative Brooklyn printmaking workshops and publishers, who are hubs for the vitality of recent print production — Harlan & Weaver, Inc.; Jungle Press Editions; 10 Grand Press; and Dieu Donné. They share a mutual passion for the medium and have offered technical expertise to artists like Eisenman who are excited to explore and experiment in printmaking practices. Parallel to the exhibition of Nicole Eisenman’s prints is Sideshow: Nicole Eisenman’s Modernist Inspirations, a selection of historic prints and drawings on loan from the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, and the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum that relate closely to the imagery and techniques of Eisenman’s prints in the exhibition, selected by UMass Art History Associate Professor Karen Kurczynski and Graduate Assistant Abigail Clark. The selection of works will be based on the artist's own interests as well as formal and iconographic connections that provide a productive dialogue between modern and contemporary perspectives.
I wish to express my thanks to Faye Hirsch for her insightful essay on Eisenman’s printmaking career. As an editor, critic, and professor of art at SUNY Purchase, she has known the artist for more than 25 years. Her essay is printed on the exhibition poster designed by Tiffany Malakooti, to whom we are also indebted. Sam Roeck, Nicole Eisenman’s studio assistant, was a valuable liaison throughout the organization of the exhibition, as was the Anton Kern Gallery.
The UMCA is grateful to Marina Ancona of 10 Grand Press; Felix Harlan of Harlan & Weaver; and Andrew Mockler of Jungle Press for generous loans to this exhibition from their respective archives. Additional gratitude goes to a dedicated collector of Nicole Eisenman’s art — Brian Donnelly — for his loan of the artist’s work.
Also, our thanks to the sponsors for their support: UMass/5 College Federal Credit Union; Legion Paper; and Teagno Construction.
Above all, to Nicole Eisenman I owe my deepest thanks for responding so positively and spontaneously to my invitation to exhibit her work at the UMCA. It was her suggestion that we organize a print exhibition, a testament to her high regard of the medium.
— Loretta Yarlow, Director, UMCA