Margaret Lowengrund (1905–1957). Liberty, ca. 1928. Etching and Drypoint. Plate: 8 ½ × 8 inches. Collection of The Lowengrund Family. © 2023 Heirs of Margaret Lowengrund / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
First Presentation on the Pioneering Printmaker and her Vital Nexus
Curated by Christina Weyl and Lauren Rosenblum
Print Center New York | 535 W 24th St, New York
On View September 21-December 23, 2023
Opening September 21, 2023 | 6-8PM
Print Center New York is pleased to present A Model Workshop: Margaret Lowengrund and The Contemporaries, the first exhibition and publication to explore the understudied work and impact of Margaret Lowengrund (1902-57). On view in the Jordan Schnitzer Gallery and co-curated by Christina Weyl and Lauren Rosenblum, A Model Workshop is focused on expanding histories of mid-century art in the United States, and specifically in New York City. Lowengrund was the first woman to open her own printmaking workshop in the United States; a visionary leader, organizer and critic within the mid-twentieth century New York printmaking community; and a driving force behind the revival of artistic lithography. The project is the first to cover Lowengrund and the nexus of mid-century printmaking she created in founding the vibrant New York print workshop and gallery, The Contemporaries. A Model Workshop brings together a diverse selection of objects, including 79 prints, one sculpture, and various ephemera, and unfolds chronologically via three themes through which the exhibition is structured: Lowengrund’s own printmaking and writing practices; the activity at The Contemporaries; and the workshop-gallery’s merger with New York’s Pratt Institute and transition into the Pratt Graphic Art Center (PGAC).
This first section showcases Lowengrund as a visionary and pioneer through the prism of her activity as an artist, teacher, organizer, and critic over her forty-year career. Through a selection of prints, Lowengrund is shown to be at the center of the print world for the entirety of her career, making cityscapes in New York and abroad during the 1920s, producing social viewpoint prints during the 1930s while employed in the Graphic Arts Division of the Federal Art Project-Works Progress Administration, teaching color lithography at the New School for Social Research (1938–40) and working as an illustrator for publications until the late 1940s. This artistic, academic, and commercial success all led Lowengrund to be the first woman in her field to open her own professional printmaking workshop in 1951.
A Model Workshop’s largest section demonstrates the breadth of activity that transpired at The Contemporaries in the Upper East Side, which reflected the vibrancy and growing internationalism of the mid-century printmaking world. Since its inception, The Contemporaries acted as a workshop as well as a gallery, showing prints made therein and building on current trends in contemporary printmaking. The Contemporaries organized eclectic and ambitious group shows and solo shows featuring exceptional printmakers such as Josef Albers, Warrington Colescott, Carol Summers, Corita Kent, Fayga Ostrower, and June Wayne. The space’s workshop drew an equally impressive roster of artists who taught (including Michael Ponce de León, Seong Moy, Will Barnet, and Andre Racz) or who collaborated on editions with this staff (Stuart Davis, David Smith). A Model Workshop captures the range in techniques and aesthetics of the artists associated with The Contemporaries in its initial years.
A smaller section of the exhibition demonstrates the further expansion of The Contemporaries’s ambition and global reach through the workshop’s 1956 merger with the Pratt Institute. Facing a cancer diagnosis and deteriorating health, Lowengrund looked to align The Contemporaries with a New York-based institution that could carry her vision forward. A vitrine of historical documentation, including the portfolio 11 Prints by 11 Printmakers (1961) and issues of two Pratt publications, illuminates The Contemporaries’ transition into the PGAC and reflects on Pratt’s sustained prominence as a center for global artistic and technical exchange in the field of printmaking.
About Lauren Rosenblum
Lauren Rosenblum is a doctoral candidate in art history at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her research situates twentieth-century printmaking in the United States within social contexts that account for such factors as the rise of second-wave feminism, the assertion of countercultures, and progressive labor relations. She has taught art history at several institutions, including most recently at Purchase College, and has worked in prints and drawings departments at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
About Christina Weyl
Christina Weyl is an independent curator and scholar, and the author of The Women of Atelier 17: Modernist Printmaking in Midcentury New York (Yale University Press, 2019). Her writing has appeared in Art in Print, Print Quarterly, the Archives of American Art Journal, and several anthologies and exhibition catalogues. From 2014 to 2018, Weyl served as Co-President of the Association of Print Scholars, a nonprofit professional organization she cofounded in 2014. She holds a BA from Georgetown University and a PhD in Art History from Rutgers University.
Josef Albers, Alexander Archipenko, Milton Avery, Will Barnet, Wendell Brooks, Edmond Casarella, Herman Cherry, Lee Chesney, Minna Citron, Warrington Colescott, Stuart Davis, Adolf Dehn, Jim Dine, Leonard Edmondson, Fritz Eichenberg, Richard Florsheim, Antonio Frasconi, Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt), Cleve Gray, Hans Haacke, Saburō Hasegawa, David Hockney, Shigeru Izumi, Sister Corita Kent, Misch Kohn, Lee Krasner, Jacob Landau, Gerson Leiber, Peter Lipman-Wulf, Margaret Lowengrund, Boris Margo, Dean Meeker, Edward Millman, Erich Mönch, Seong Moy, Shiko Munakata, John Muench, Reginald Neal, Lowell Nesbitt, Gabor Peterdi, Michael Ponce de León, Liliana Porter, Walter Rogalski, Clare Romano, John Ross, Stanislaw Rzepa, Louis Schanker, Karl Schrag, Arnold Singer, David Smith, Andrew Stasik, Miroslav Sutej, Valerie Thornton, Alice Trumbull, Ansei Uchima, June Wayne, Kang Yul Yoo, and Adja Yunkers.
About A Model Workshop: Margaret Lowengrund and The Contemporaries
The publication expands the exhibition’s central themes of organized labor, protofeminist activism, and modernisms in essays by Christina Weyl and Lauren Rosenblum and shorter commissioned texts, which situate Lowengrund and The Contemporaries as a vital nexus within broader contexts. Contributing authors Sarah Archer, Ellen Benjamin, Noriko Kuwahara, Jillian Russo and Rachel Vogel give context to Lowengrund, The Contemporaries, and PGAC with essays on women’s roles as entrepreneurs and gallery owners at mid-century; the international growth of mid-century printmaking and its expansion into American consumer life; and the significance ofPGAC to a younger generation of artists. The publication also brings together key supporting materials—such as archival documents and a chronology of exhibitions at The Contemporaries—that serve as resources for future research.
Print Center New York is open to the public and located at 535 West 24th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. Hours during the fall are Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–6pm.
Admission is free.
About Print Center New York
Print Center New York champions printmaking as an art form that drives invention, collaboration, and access, and plays a vital role in society. Through exhibitions, public programs, education, and artistic development, Print Center New York is a hub of exploration and inquiry for all those engaged with and new to prints. A 501(c)(3) institution, Print Center New York depends on foundation, government, individual support, and members’ contributions to fund its programs. Having opened a new, ground floor space at 535 West 24th Street in October 2022, designed by architect Markus Dochantschi of studioMDA, Print Center New York has significantly expanded public access and programming capacity.
Print Center New York gratefully acknowledges our Board of Trustees and Jordan Schnitzer for their leadership support.
This exhibition is made possible with support from Getty through The Paper Project initiative. Additional support is provided by Wyeth Foundation for American Art, The Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation, and the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation.
Print Center New York is funded, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.