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Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking

March 20 – September 5, 2021

Updated Mar 20, 2021

Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking celebrates both the artist and the democratic and diverse creative community he developed. Blackburn was an African American artist born to Jamaican immigrants in 1920 and raised in Harlem, New York. The exhibition highlights his life and work, revealing how his innovative printmaking expertise helped define the aesthetic of the American graphics “boom.” An influential teacher and master printer, Blackburn explored avant-garde ideas, while promoting a new collaborative approach to printmaking. The exhibition contains over 80 works, including lithographs, woodcuts, intaglio prints, and watercolors by Blackburn and the artists with whom he collaborated, including Elizabeth Catlett, Grace Hartigan, Robert Rauschenberg, and Charles White.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Refugees (aka People in a Boat), 1938. Lithograph; 11 1/8 x 15 ¾ in. Edition 4. Collection of NCCU Art Museum, North Carolina Central University, Gift of Christopher Maxey.

Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking celebrates both the artist and the democratic and diverse creative community he developed. Blackburn was an African American artist born to Jamaican immigrants in 1920 and raised in Harlem, New York. The exhibition highlights his life and work, revealing how his innovative printmaking expertise helped define the aesthetic of the American graphics “boom.” An influential teacher and master printer, Blackburn explored avant-garde ideas, while promoting a new collaborative approach to printmaking. The exhibition contains over 80 works, including lithographs, woodcuts, intaglio prints, and watercolors by Blackburn and the artists with whom he collaborated, including Elizabeth Catlett, Grace Hartigan, Robert Rauschenberg, and Charles White.

Images

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Refugees (aka People in a Boat), 1938. Lithograph; 11 1/8 x 15 ¾ in. Edition 4. Collection of NCCU Art Museum, North Carolina Central University, Gift of Christopher Maxey.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Refugees (aka People in a Boat), 1938. Lithograph; 11 1/8 x 15 ¾ in. Edition 4. Collection of NCCU Art Museum, North Carolina Central University, Gift of Christopher Maxey.

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Robert Blackburn, 1987. Photograph by Peter Sumner Walton Bellamy

Robert Blackburn, 1987. Photograph by Peter Sumner Walton Bellamy

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Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Girl in Red, 1950. Color Lithograph; 18 ¼ x 12 ½ in. The Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Girl in Red, 1950. Color Lithograph; 18 ¼ x 12 ½ in. The Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art

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Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Purple Flash III, 1972. Color Woodcut; 26 x 20 in. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley. Photo courtesy of the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Purple Flash III, 1972. Color Woodcut; 26 x 20 in. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley. Photo courtesy of the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Native Tongue, 1988. From the portfolio Dead Birds. Linocut, letterpress printing. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley. Photo courtesy of the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Native Tongue, 1988. From the portfolio Dead Birds. Linocut, letterpress printing. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley. Photo courtesy of the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland.

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Charles White, (American, 1918–1979). John Brown, 1949. Lithograph; 25 x 21 in.(Framed). The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts' Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop.

Charles White, (American, 1918–1979). John Brown, 1949. Lithograph; 25 x 21 in.(Framed). The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts' Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop.

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Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925–2008). Stunt Man 1, 1962. Lithograph in two colors; 22 ½ x 17 ½ in. Courtesy Universal Limited Art Editions. Used with Permission.

Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925–2008). Stunt Man 1, 1962. Lithograph in two colors; 22 ½ x 17 ½ in. Courtesy Universal Limited Art Editions. Used with Permission.

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Charles Alston (American, 1907–1977). Young Boy, 1938. Charcoal; 24 7/8 x 19 in. Courtesy of Wesley and Missy Cochran, The Cochran Collection. Used with Permission.

Charles Alston (American, 1907–1977). Young Boy, 1938. Charcoal; 24 7/8 x 19 in. Courtesy of Wesley and Missy Cochran, The Cochran Collection. Used with Permission.

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Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Little One (aka Little Stone, Notation), 1960s–1971. Lithograph; 8 x 12 in. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Little One (aka Little Stone, Notation), 1960s–1971. Lithograph; 8 x 12 in. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley.

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Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Reflections (aka The Mirror), 1960. Color Lithograph; 18 ½ x 23 ¾ in. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Reflections (aka The Mirror), 1960. Color Lithograph; 18 ½ x 23 ¾ in. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley.

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Red

Blackburn, Red Inside

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Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Still Life (aka White Jug), c. 1950. Color Lithograph; 13 ½ x 18 ¼ in. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley. Photo courtesy of the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Still Life (aka White Jug), c. 1950. Color Lithograph; 13 ½ x 18 ¼ in. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley. Photo courtesy of the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Blue Things, c. 1963–1970. Color Woodcut; 20 x 26 in. Courtesy of Wesley and Missy Cochran, The Cochran Collection. Photograph by Karl Peterson. © The Trust for Robert Blackburn. Used with permission.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Blue Things, c. 1963–1970. Color Woodcut; 20 x 26 in. Courtesy of Wesley and Missy Cochran, The Cochran Collection. Photograph by Karl Peterson. © The Trust for Robert Blackburn. Used with permission.

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Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Faux Pas (aka Unfinished Note), c. 1960. Color Lithograph; 22 x 16 ½ in. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Karl Peterson. © The Trust for Robert Blackburn. Used with permission.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Faux Pas (aka Unfinished Note), c. 1960. Color Lithograph; 22 x 16 ½ in. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Karl Peterson. © The Trust for Robert Blackburn. Used with permission.

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Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Heavy Forms, 1961. Color Lithograph; 15 ¾ x 19 ½ in. Courtesy of Wesley and Missy Cochran, The Cochran Collection. Photograph by Karl Peterson. © The Trust for Robert Blackburn. Used with permission.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Heavy Forms, 1961. Color Lithograph; 15 ¾ x 19 ½ in. Courtesy of Wesley and Missy Cochran, The Cochran Collection. Photograph by Karl Peterson. © The Trust for Robert Blackburn. Used with permission.

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Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Stockholm, 1988. Lithograph; 16 x 20 in. Courtesy of Wesley and Missy Cochran, The Cochran Collection. Photograph by Karl Peterson. © The Trust for Robert Blackburn. Used with permission.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Stockholm, 1988. Lithograph; 16 x 20 in. Courtesy of Wesley and Missy Cochran, The Cochran Collection. Photograph by Karl Peterson. © The Trust for Robert Blackburn. Used with permission.

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Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Three Ovals (aka The Ovals), 1960s–1970s. Woodcut; 17 1/5 x 14 1/2 in. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley. Photo courtesy of the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Three Ovals (aka The Ovals), 1960s–1970s. Woodcut; 17 1/5 x 14 1/2 in. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley. Photo courtesy of the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Woodscape, 1984. Color Woodcut; 12 x 15 1/4 in. The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts' Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. Photograph by Karl Peterson. © The Trust for Robert Blackburn. Used with permission.

Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003). Woodscape, 1984. Color Woodcut; 12 x 15 1/4 in. The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts' Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. Photograph by Karl Peterson. © The Trust for Robert Blackburn. Used with permission.

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Ron Adams (American, born 1934). Blackburn, 2002. Color lithograph on tan paper; 25 × 35 in. Detroit Institute of Arts, 2011.89.

Ron Adams (American, born 1934). Blackburn, 2002. Color lithograph on tan paper; 25 × 35 in. Detroit Institute of Arts, 2011.89.

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