Reading Print/Out: 20 Years in Print is a bit like browsing the Internet while strolling through a crowded urban intersection, overhearing many conversations at once and witnessing the same (but different) red stop sign again, on the next corner, repeatedly. The catalogue, which accompanies Print/Out, MoMA’s third major print survey exhibition since 1980, offers a new language of the edition, now broken apart and reminiscent of the exploded serial dynamic that I experience during online interactions. When we respond to one another with images and comments, each successive response renews my experience of that image.
In the catalogue, focused monographic sections on 10 artists are broken up by intervening sections in which a number of series by various artists (each reproduced in full, including all 139 etchings in Thomas Schütte’s Low Tide Wandering) are essentially scattered throughout the book, held together by a Ben-Day dot motif that continues inward from the cover. Through its exploded spatialization of images, the catalogue responds diligently to the way contemporary print media often incorporates Internet-inspired seriality as a strategy alongside other forms of repetition and older technologies like letterpress and intaglio. Christophe Cherix, Chief Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books and the exhibition organizer, says in his essay, “Over the last two decades, artists with no prior experience with printmaking have produced truly ambitious printed projects, often integrating newly available technologies with traditional techniques and choosing to work independently.”
Interior spreads from Print/Out: 20 Years in Print (MoMA, 2012). From left: Thomas Nozkowski. One from Untitled. 2006. © 2012 Thomas Nozkowski, courtesy The Pace Gallery. Damien Hirst. Sandwich from The Last Supper. 1999. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACP, London. Daniel Joseph Martinez. One from If Only God Had Invented Coca Cola, Sooner! Or, The Death of My Pet Monkey. 2004. © 2012 Daniel Joseph Martinez. Kelley Walker. Ten from Andy Warhol Doesn't Play Second Base for the Chicago Cubs. 2010 © Kelley Walker. Thomas Schütte. Three from Low Tide Wandering. 2001. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Damien Hirst. Salad from The Last Supper. 1999. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACP, London. Thomas Schütte. Six from Low Tide Wandering. 2001. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Kara Walker. Cotton Hoards in Southern Swamp from Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) and Banks's Army Leaving Simmsport from Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated). 2005. © 2012 Kara Walker. Thomas Nozkowski. One from Untitled. 2006. © 2012 Thomas Nozkowski, courtesy The Pace Gallery
Print/Out: 20 Years in Print pays keen attention to print’s quintessential form of repetition, the edition, now burst open. In order to experience the edition in its entirety, the reader must flip back and forth between the Ben-Day dot sections and the index at the back of the book, where full captions, including dimensions and materials, are listed. Individual images are labeled only with the title, year, and artist’s name in scattered huddles throughout the volume, with no obvious organizational logic other than motif, so that the works exist incompletely, at once here and elsewhere and never all in the same place. Additionally, several kinds of paper of varying weights, sizes, and textures are used, calling attention the the printed page as yet another form of “printmaking.”