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Review: Impressed: Twentieth Century Artist Prints from Dundee’s Collection

By Jen McLaren, 12.01.2024
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Impressed: Twentieth Century Artist Prints from Dundee’s Collection is a new exhibition at The McManus: Dundee’s Museum & Art Gallery showcasing the city’s collection of 20th Century fine art prints.

The majority are by artists who lived or worked in Scotland, however, there are also some by European artists such as Picasso, Chagall and Degas that demonstrate the influence their printmaking practices had on artists in Scotland and the rest of the world.

Most works were created during the height of the print revival in Scotland by artists working with the four Scottish print studios in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. Whilst printmaking had once been regarded as secondary to painting and sculpture, from the 1960s onwards, Scottish artists began using the medium for personal expression, aided by the establishment of open access print studios across the country during the decade that followed. These studios provided affordable access to tools and also acted as communal spaces for artists to share techniques and inspiration.
Entering the room, you are at once faced with Adrian Wiszniewski’s vivid print, ‘Comme Possible’ (c.1988) which has painterly qualities, carrying Wiszniewski’s distinctive lines and figurative composition.

Edgar Degas Born Paris, 1834-1917, Monsieur et Madame Cardinal, c1880, Monotype in black ink with touches of charcoal on laid paper Purchased 1974 with support from the National Fund for Acquisitions

The European artists appear early: a colourful series of Chagalls, Picasso’s ‘Les Saltimbanques’ (1922) in detailed etching and aquatint, and Degas’ stunning monotype ‘Monsieur et Madame Cardinal’ (c.1880) featuring touches of the artist’s signature charcoal. An etching from 1990 by Paula Rego also features, based on a play by Ibsen.

Artist and writer Alasdair Gray’s striking screenprint ‘From the Soul’s Proper Loneliness’ (1979) demonstrates his versatility, meanwhile a joyful print with echoes of Matisse by Alastair Mack, ‘Discovery’ (1990) was made at Dundee Printmakers Workshop and is a meditation on a turning point in the city’s heritage, as its industrial past collides with its future as a centre for life science research.

John Johnstone, "Anne at the Printmakers"

Another treat for the eyes is Eduardo Paolozzi’s ‘B.A.S.H.2’ (1971) – an excellent example of his blend of Surrealism and Pop Art in collage. Ian Hamilton Finlay’s ‘Homage to Modern Art’ (1972) is a rare screenprint connecting the modern and the classical as only Finlay knew how. And, in a nod to the local scene, John Johnstone’s ‘Dudhope’ depicts Dudhope Arts Centre where Dundee’s artists created for years.

The delicate etching ‘Fritillaria Imperialis Lutea Maxima’ by Elizabeth Blackadder is a calming piece in this eclectic exhibition featuring many highlights by Scottish artists.

Impressed: Twentieth Century Artist Prints from Dundee’s Collection runs throughout 2024 at The McManus: Dundee’s Museum & Art Gallery