The Arts Council Collection is primarily a collection of modern and contemporary British art, but early on in its history it also acquired prints by major 20th-century European artists alongside British artists, forming an outstanding collection of more than 1,500 printed works by over 500 artists.
This exhibition, at The Beaney in 2020 but closed due to Covid, considers how artists have used a variety of printmaking techniques to exploit the potential of the printed line, from the thick velvety line of drypoint and the heavy cross-hatching of etching to delicate wood engraving and boldly coloured screenprints and lithographs. Spanning the 20th century and up to the present day, the exhibition includes Sickert's masterly cross-hatched etching The Old Middlesex (c.1910), Ben Nicholson's rich drypoint Halse Town 1949 (1949), Eduardo Chillida's bold etchings and David Hockney's pared down linear etchings in Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C. P. Cavafy (1966-67). The use of colour is explored in screenprints by Bridget Riley and Kenneth Martin, as well as Simon Patterson's witty lithograph reworking the lines of the London tube map.
The exhibition features approximately 50 framed works in the exhibition and artists will include Frank Auerbach, Patrick Caulfield, Eduardo Chillida, Prunella Clough, Keith Coventry, Derek Boshier, Paul Coldwell, Lizzie Cox, Barry Flanagan, Lucian Freud, Derrick Greaves, Anthony Gross, Gertrude Hermes, David Hockney, Oskar Kokoschka, Kenneth Martin, Henri Matisse, Ben Nicholson, Eduardo Paolozzi, Simon Patterson, Pablo Picasso, Eric Ravilious, Walter Sickert, Richard Smith, Ian Tyson and Rachel Whiteread. It also celebrate the publication of Hayward Gallery Publishing's A Century of Prints in Britain which contains an informative essay by Julia Beaumont-Jones.
We are thankful to the Arts Council for loaning this exhibition to The Beaney after its early closure last year due to Covid restrictions.
Image credit: Birgit Skiold, Mighty Billow I, 1967. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © Birgit Skiöld Memorial Trust