Ellsworth Kelly’s ‘Colored paper images’

Ellsworth Kelly Colored paper images II, V and X 1976, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC is currently showing Ellsworth Kelly’s Colored paper images, created with Kenneth Tyler at the Tyler Graphics workshop in Bedford Village in 1976. We thought this was an excellent reason to take a look at the series ourselves and to bring you some images from the candid photography collection. You can find out more about the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition here: http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/kelly.shtm.

The Colored paper images project spanned eight months and resulted in 23 works made from coloured paper pulp, shaped using metal molds. The coloured shapes on white grounds are typical of Kelly’s abstract works; however the nature of paper pulp has created a blurring that is quite different to the sharp outlines seen in his paintings and other prints. The images below illustrate the investigative process involved in creating the series.

Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Tyler and John Koller working on the Colored paper images series at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford Village, New York, 1976. Photographs by Betty Fiske

Tyler and Kelly worked with John and Kathleen Koller at the HMP paper mill to create over 50 different colours of paper pulp using numerous methods including powdered pigments, vinyl paint and water-based dyes. Kelly was interested in varying the colour fields in the final works and so deliberately adjusted the amount of colour bleeding and the consistency of pigment in several of the images. He also experimented with the development of the molds for his shapes using pliable metal. The resultant Colored paper images are sophisticated studies in colour and form; their mottled colour fields and blurred edges epitomise the subtleties of paper pulp.

Kenneth Tyler AO

On January 23 2013, at the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC, the Honorable Kim Beazley AC conducted an Investiture Ceremony admitting Kenneth Tyler AO to the Order of Australia for service to the Arts, particularly through the Kenneth Tyler Collection here at the National Gallery of Australia and through philanthropy.

We are very pleased to be able to bring you these photographs from the ceremony, courtesy of the Australian Government:

The Hon Kim Beasley AC conducts the Investiture Ceremony for Kenneth Tyler AO

The Hon Kim Beazley AC conducts the Investiture Ceremony for Kenneth Tyler AO

The Hon Kim Beasley AC & Kenneth Tyler AO  The Hon Kim Beasley AC & Kenneth Tyler AO

The Hon Kim Beazley AC and Kenneth Tyler AO

Guests at the Investiture Ceremony for Kenneth Tyler AO

Guests at the Investiture Ceremony

Kenneth Tyler AO & Marabeth Cohen-Tyler

Kenneth Tyler AO and Marabeth Cohen-Tyler

Season’s greetings!

Merry Christmas!!

2012 has been a big year for the National Gallery’s Tyler Collection. We have learned the exciting news that Kenneth Tyler will be made an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia at an investiture ceremony in Washington DC on January 23, 2013. Ken has been nominated for this well-deserved honour for his ‘service to the Arts, particularly through the Kenneth Tyler Collection at the National Gallery of Australia and through philanthropy.’

In April the Roy Lichtenstein: Pop remix show started its national tour at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, and headed to the Queensland University Art Museum in Brisbane in late June. The fantastic catalogue that accompanies the show, written by curator Jaklyn Babington and designed by Carla Da Silva, won a Printing Industries Craftmanship Award in November.

Roy Lichtenstein: Pop remix

Jaklyn Babington’s award winning catalogue

Throughout the year, works from the Tyler Collection featured prominently in the Gallery’s changing displays of international art, with series by Jasper Johns, Richard Serra and David Hockney shown in the Pop and Contemporary galleries. Bruce Nauman’s Pay attention – which inspired Tony Albert’s work of the same name – was hung at the entrance to unDISCLOSED the second National Indigenous Art Triennial, and several works by Tyler artists are featured in the Word pictures exhibition currently on display in the Children’s Gallery.

We continued to build the collection’s web presence, launching a new look collection website and creating a Facebook account to reach a broader audience. Assistant Curator Emilie Owens attended the Museums Australia national conference, aptly themed ‘research and collections in a connected world’. Her reflections on the conference can be found in the current issue of IMPRINT magazine.

A particularly exciting development on the web-front is the new Tyler Graphics Ltd ‘Team’ page. The page gives printers and workshop staff who worked with Tyler in his various workshops an opportunity to share their experiences and give readers another perspective on the printmaking process.

The year also occasioned reflection and sadness as it marked the passing of three great artists featured in the collection, namely Ken Price, Paul Jenkins and Maurice Sendak. Robert Hughes, one of the key figures in the early acquisition of Tyler’s prints for the NGA, also passed away.

We wish you all a safe and happy festive season, and look forward to bringing you more from the Tyler Collection in 2013.

Try and have a merry christmas this year! David Hockney

Josef Albers

Earlier this month Vogue Australia contacted us for permission to use two of our fabulous Josef Albers prints for their January 2013 issue. This got us thinking about the unique relationship that Kenneth Tyler shared with Albers, and below we have compiled some candid shots to accompany a brief history of the artist and master printer’s working relationship. 

 

Tyler and Albers first worked together at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop. When Tyler moved to Los Angeles in 1965 to set up his own print workshop and publishing house – Gemini GEL – Albers’ White line squares was the first print project. This series develops Albers’ colour theories and his unique application of the colour spectrum to images of geometric abstraction. The addition of a precise, white line creates the appearance of four-colours, although only three inks are used. The perfectly registered, luminous lithographs became Tyler’s ‘calling card’ to attract other major artists to the studio, and Albers generously donated a large percentage of the proceeds to fund further projects.

 

 

When, in 1973, Tyler moved to the east coast to establish Tyler Graphics Ltd in BedfordVillage, the inaugural project was again devoted to Albers. Gray instrumentation I, a portfolio of colour screenprints interspersed with text pages written by Albers, was produced in 1974. The series was a remarkable feat, achieving a level of precision that had not been seen in screen-printing before. The crisp, clear colours were inspired by leaves, twigs, scraps of paper and other found materials that Albers requested Tyler match in ink, exactly. The subtle tonal differences in each print required hours of laboured colour-proofing: each of the inks was printed directly onto white paper with no overlap or overprinting. The exercise required a perfect system of colour-matching and a perfect system of registration, which Tyler turned to photographic techniques to achieve.

In the two years that followed, Tyler and Albers collaborated on three further screenprint portfolios: Gray instrumentation II; Mitered squares; and Never before. Never before, which develops ideas that Albers had started exploring twenty-seven years earlier in the 1949 painting Indicating solids, was completed in 1976, just weeks before his death.

Word pictures

To celebrate the National Year of Reading the children’s gallery here at the NGA is showing Word Pictures, an exhibition that focuses on the use of text in works of art. Four artists from the Tyler Collection – Jasper Johns, Bruce Nauman, Claes Oldenburg and Robert Rauschenberg – are represented. Below we have compiled a selection of  images showing these important artists at work on projects featured – or related to those featured – in the exhibition. Hover your cursor over the images to read descriptions.

Jasper Johns

Alphabet  1969

Johns created a series of works involving the letters of the alphabet at Gemini GEL in 1969. Letters and numbers are a recurring theme in Johns’ art – check out his Color numeral series here: http://tylerblogs.com/2011/03/09/jasper-johns-the-color-numeral-series/

        

Bruce Nauman

Clear vision  1973

In Clear vision Nauman juxtaposes the words ‘clear’ and ‘vision’ with vigorous marks that, ironically, blur the text and render it unclear. We looked at another or Nauman’s text-based works recently: http://tylerblogs.com/?s=bruce+nauman. Below you can see an image of the artist working on a similar project at Gemini GEL.

Claes Oldenburg

The letter Q as beach house, with sailboat  1972

Oldenburg’s  quirky work is one of several created during the same period in which letters take on the characteristics of objects: here the letter Q becomes a beach house, situated idylically on the shores of a tranquil stretch of water. Like Johns, Oldenburg’s work often features letters and numbers. The image below shows him at work on a later print Chicago stuffed with numbers, that demonstrates this preoccupation.

      

Robert Rauschenberg

Cardbird III  1971

Rauschenberg’s Cardbird series plays with language in different ways. Aside from the obvious inclusion of the text printed on the works themselves, the title ‘cardbird’ is a play on ‘cardboard’, the material used to create the works. You can read more about the work here: http://nga.gov.au/Rauschenberg/

The Word pictures exhibition runs until February 10, 2013 – don’t miss it!

New look Tyler Collection website

Over the past few months we have been compiling new information for the Gallery’s Kenneth Tyler printmaking collection website, and working to make the site easier to use. The results are now online for you to explore here: http://nga.gov.au/InternationalPrints/Tyler/Default.cfm?MnuID=12

An important addition to the site is the new Tyler Graphics Ltd (TGL) team page, dedicated to the immensely talented group of printers and workshop staff that made the astonishing print projects produced at TGL possible. This page reveals the truly collaborative nature of the Tyler workshops and the unique working environment that existed there. To bring you this information we contacted several former staff members and asked them to share with us their memories of the TGL workshops – with some fascinating insights and often amusing recollections.

Yasu Shibata speaks of the excitement surrounding the production of Frank Stella’s The Fountain; the breadth of John Hutcheson’s printmaking knowledge and experience is truly staggering; and Barbara Delano recalls Saturdays with Robert Motherwell. Mark Mahaffey’s recollection of David Hockney’s 1984 visit to the workshop involves a pet rabbit; Kim Halliday reminisces about the camaraderie of the shop; and Duane Mitch remembers burgers and beers after the Chicago Art Fair. More of this valuable background information around the workings of a major print workshop will be added as we continue to make contact with TGL staff members.

We hope you will take a moment to explore the wealth of material available on the website and would love to hear your comments and feedback either here on the blog, or via the Tyler Collection email address: TylerCollection@nga.gov.au

Mark Mahaffey’s pet rabbit, Stones, alongside a Christmas message from David Hockney – just one of the stories that emerged from our discussions with TGL staff members.

In memory of Robert Hughes, 1938 – 2012

The International Print collection at the National Gallery of Australia has a special, historic connection to Robert Hughes. In 1973 – almost a decade before the Gallery opened its doors to the public – Hughes alerted then director James Mollison to the fact that master-printer Kenneth Tyler was looking to sell his collection of printers’ proofs. Tyler, who set up the Gemini GEL workshop in Los Angeles, had decided to move to the east coast and was looking for a buyer to help fund a new workshop there. Hughes was aware that the National Gallery in Canberra was committed to building a world class collection of international works, and that Tyler wanted to see his works kept together – preferably in a public museum. The National Gallery was a perfect fit.

Details of this important acquisition, which laid the foundations for the Kenneth Tyler printmaking collection, are recounted on our website by Senior Curator Jane Kinsman, who interviewed Hughes about the acquisition in 2002: http://nga.gov.au/InternationalPrints/Tyler/Default.cfm?MnuID=5

Hughes’ death will be felt throughout the international art world, and particularly here in his native Australia.

Paul Jenkins, 1923 – 2012

 

We are sorry to report the death of  Tyler Collection artist, Paul Jenkins, who passed away on June 9 at the age of 88. Jenkins was a celebrated Abstract Expressionist painter of the New York School, whose experiments with pouring, dripping, splashing and pooling paint directly onto canvas translated well into print and papermaking at Tyler’s Bedford Village workshop.

Between 1979 and 1980, Jenkins created several prints with Tyler. These images from our candid photography collection show the spontaneous way in which the artist typically worked. In the parking lot of the workshop, he used buckets and garbage cans to splash dye onto handmade sheets of paper for his West winds series. Inks and pigments were poured and spread directly from their containers, creating vibrant rivulets of colour.

You can read more about Jenkins’ life and work here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/jun/21/paul-jenkins

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/18/arts/design/paul-jenkins-abstract-expressionist-painter-dies-at-88.html

The Tyler candid photography collection

The votes are in! You asked for more candid photographs from behind the scenes, so we thought we would begin with an overview of this unique collection.

The Tyler candid photography collection contains thousands of rare candid photographs of artists at work in the  Tyler workshops, as well as in their own studios. The collection is an invalubale resource for students, teachers, scholars and fans of printmaking, providing a unique insight into the working methods of Tyler and his dedicated workshop staff.

Candid photography is shot without the staged lighting, backdrops and poise of professional photographic portraits, so it captures the action of the workshop in a spontaneous and unobtrusive way. The result is like a glimpse into a private photo album, and gives an understanding of the collaborative nature of the printmaking process, characterised by many complex, labour-intensive techniques – but also by happy accidents.

The collection of photographs was compiled over decades by Ken and Marabeth Tyler, and given exclusively to the National Gallery of Australia in 2002. Hundreds of images from the collection have been digitised and made available in photo-essay format on our Tyler website and we are beginning to add albums to our newly created Facebook page.

We are working continuously to digitise new material, so if there is an artist or project you are particularly interested in please let us know!

Below you will find a slideshow selection of images from the collection.

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Remembering Maurice Sendak

Ken Tyler shares his memories of friend and collaborator, Maurice Sendak:

I was not exposed to Maurice’s books as a young person, but fortunately as an adult I read his books and knew him as a friend.  His unique imagination, wit and humor enlightened all those he touched with his art and friendship.

He was the epitome of the irascible and loving relative whose stories taught and amused you.  Knowing Maurice was very special.  Collaborating with him on his prints and book projects endeared me to his work and enriched my life. He will be remembered and missed and live on in my life as one of the most significant people I have had the privilege to know.

In 2002 I remember visiting Maurice with my wife Marabeth.  He wanted to show us the book titled ‘Brundibar,’ that he and Tony Kushner were working on.  We sat around his drawing table as he proceeded to read to us the whole story, stopping occasionally to describe the characters in greater detail or embellish on the WW II war story.   It was an experience we will forever cherish.

I believe his art will continue to educate and enlighten each new generation, no matter how young or old they are when through his work he enters their lives.

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