States of Play: Prints from Rembrandt to Delsarte

, University Research Gallery, Harvard Art Museums
This side-by-side image features two versions of the same Cubist-style print of a woman’s face. Black, red, blue, and yellow inks are used in the portrait at right; red and yellow inks are used at left.

Pablo Ruiz Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Jacqueline with Glossy Hair, 1962. State iii/v: red on yellow on beige (left); state v/v: black on blue on red on yellow on beige (right). Linocuts on white wove paper. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Margaret Fisher Fund and purchase through generosity of Jeanne and Geoff Champion and Barbara K. Wheaton, 2018.308.5, 2018.308.9. Artwork: © 2021 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Harvard Art Museums; © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

University Research Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

Immerse yourself in the world of printmaking, tracing how artists move step by step to painstakingly rework and refine their images.

Spanning more than three centuries, the works in this exhibition—by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt, Lee Krasner, Jacques Philippe Le Bas, and Louis Delsarte—unveil the layers of creative revision, correction, and adjustment behind finished prints. Central to this process is the concept of a “print state,” which traditionally refers to a version of a print that precedes the final product. The exhibition explores how artists across time have maximized the iterative potential of states, for reasons ranging from the practical to the whimsical. By decoding creative choices that the artist pursued or abandoned in each successive step, the exhibition helps uncover the full breadth of experimentation and demystifies printmaking terminology and techniques.

The works on view, which also include prints by Anthony van Dyck, Louise Nevelson, Paul Signac, Edvard Munch, Albert Besnard, Félix Hilaire Buhot, Sol LeWitt, and others, are drawn from the Harvard Art Museums collections.

Curated by Elizabeth M. Rudy, Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Curator of Prints, Harvard Art Museums; with contributions by Elie Glyn (Assistant Director for Exhibitions), Thea Goldring (Graduate Student Intern, Division of European and American Art, Spring/Summer 2019), Casey Kane Monahan (Cunningham Curatorial Assistant for the Collection, Division of European and American Art), Matt Roza (Exhibition Designer), and Christina Taylor (Assistant Paper Conservator).

This exhibition was made possible by the Robert M. Light Print Department Fund. Related programming is supported by the M. Victor Leventritt Lecture Series Endowment Fund.

Learn more about the exhibition in our series of videos on Vimeo, including an introduction by curator Elizabeth Rudy, printmaking demonstrations, and a conversation with Boston-area printmakers.