Small Victories: One Couple'S Surprising Adventures Collecting American Prints
Publish Date: 2015-01-01
Author: Dave Williams
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An illustrated journey through American prints, illuminated by the victories, defeats & discoveries of two intrepid collectors.
For more than four decades, Dave Williams and his wife Reba White formed what is certainly the most comprehensive and adventurous treasury of American prints ever assembled by private collectors. In the 6,000 prints they personally selected, they cover both familiar and totally unknown ground. What stands out about their collection is not the expected holdings of iconic images by artists known to anyone even remotely familiar with the field, but their sustained effort to break new ground, to include artists and entire schools of art that have been unknown to-or routinely ignored by-both academics and fellow collectors. Here, in force, are the regionalists who worked on the shores of Cape Cod and northern California, in Dallas and Charleston, SC, as well as the Ashcan School of New York, Hayter's Atelier 17, and countless other small ateliers and workshops well off the beaten paths and often unknown and unseen.
Here are the hundreds of WPA artists, supported by the federal government during the Great Depression, who worked, often anonymously, in smaller cities and undocumented workshops, and here as well are the masterpieces of Bellows and Homer, Lewis and Sloan-all illustrated and treated with due respect. But the real value is the light shed on lesser known connections, venues, personalities, and visionaries. Who remembers the bounty of prints created by African Americans in the 1930s-40s? What did the Americans learn from (and give to) the artists of the Mexican revolution-Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros? What influence did the Vorticists exert on American printmakers? How were the WPA policies able to introduce so many artists to printmaking? By structuring the book primarily as a memoir, a personal story, the Williamses' collection is presented as an adventure, a unique look into this populist corner of the duplicated image, of its reflection of and impact on popular culture, and into the nature of collecting in general.
Generously illustrated in full color, with extensive indices and bibliography, this will be judged among the indispensable and totally original print reference books for years to come.