A Review I Missed - Donald Roberts

This review on a show at the Riffe Gallery in May contained numerous references to Donald Roberts, his work, and his influence and contribution to the Trissolini Project (a project wherein works were acquired for OU).

By Melissa StarkerFor The Columbus Dispatch  •  Sunday May 11, 2014 9:25 AM

In 1940, British printmaker Stanley William Hayter fled Europe to escape the ravages of war and opened a New York branch of the experimental print workshop he had started in Paris.

He taught printmaking techniques to young artists and encouraged established artists to give the medium a try.

Hayter’s influence spread throughout the country as more print workshops opened, fostering the Postwar Print Renaissance in America. Some of the biggest artists of the 20th century became part of the movement, which hit its stride in the 1960s and ’70s.

Perceptions of printmaking evolved from disdain for its easily reproducible form to enthusiasm for its potential as an emerging fine-art medium.

Donald Roberts, a professor emeritus of art at Ohio University, shared that enthusiasm as well as a wish to take original fine art to the small town of Athens. Along with Henry Lin, former dean of the College of Fine Arts (also father of artist Maya Lin), Roberts acquired an impressive collection of fine-art prints for the school in the 1980s. They would find a permanent home at the school’s Kennedy Museum of Art when it opened in 1996.

A selection of more than 50 works from the collection of about 1,600 prints is on view in “ Impressive Impressions” at the Riffe Gallery.

Among those represented in the show is Robert Rauschenberg. His work Preview elevates newspaper imagery to the realm of fine art, while his choice of surface — sheer chiffon fabric — highlights the subject’s ephemeral nature.

Conceptual artist Sol Lewitt is showcased with the exceptionally colorful, formally pristine aquatint Arc Bands, Four Colors Superimposed Progressively. Prints by Josef Albers and Ellsworth Kelly share its geometric precision and intensity of hue.

Ed Ruscha’s Insect Slant presents a flurry of ants in his trademark photo-realistic style, and the iconic pools of David Hockney appear in cobalt blue through a combination of printing processes.

Figurative representations range from Eric Fischl’s gorgeous yet disturbing six-panel narrative Year of the Drowned Dog to Richard Bosman’s raw, comical two-panel work Revenge of the Cat and prints by Lesley Dill that present a female form adorned with text that describes a discomfort in one’s skin.

Artists with direct links to Ohio University are also featured — including Roberts. Appropriately, his lithograph Ellipsoid Rochester 76seems to pull the show together, connecting its abstract and representational elements through a semiabstract image that evokes a sense of architectural structure beneath a deep-blue sky.

Also, Donald was interviewed by WOSU for an upcoming segment on his artwork and life.  I'll keep you updated.

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