“The Flat Press: Five Decades of Printmaking” is the Knoxville Museum of Art’s (KMA) celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of one of the country’s most famous printers. The exhibit is a unique collection that speaks to KMA’s strong reputation due to its history with Landfall Press and KMA’s collaboration with the UT School of the Arts, according to KMA curator Stephen Wicks.
“Tamfall Press exhibition representatives viewed the KMA as a desirable venue because of its extensive print holdings, its proximity and partnership with the University of Tennessee School of Art’s top number of prints, and its ties to major collectors and Landfall patrons of Helen and principal. Russell Novak, from Chicago, who KMA 38 tracks donated contemporary pieces that were organized in 2018 at the KMA exhibition, Wicks said.
Landfall Press was founded in 1970 by Jack Lemon in Chicago. A printmaker specializes in lithography, where the artist draws on a chalk board, and the printer applies oil ink to the drawing. The image area draws ink, and the paper is placed on top of the stone and run through a printing press creating a print of the image from the stone. Landfall Press also published etchings, woodcuts, books and prints.
One of the main aspects that Landfall Press is known for is its collaboration with diverse and international artists in both print and other forms of media. While many of the pieces are traditional lithographs, other creative works include etchings, mixed media compositions, and three-dimensional works. As a member of the curatorial team at the KMA, Stephen Wicks believes that Landfall Press showcases a variety of unique creative expressions.
“The flat selection of 50 prints represents the achievements of more than 40 distinct international artists who have collaborated with Landfall since it opened in 1970, and highlights the dynamic range of new print accessories for which the legendary workshop has been known for a decade,” Wicks said.
“One of the works selected includes an inspirational statement about the wealth of experience and innovation in today’s world,” according to the Knoxville Museum of Art. website.
Many of the pieces capture different perspectives and displays for a variety of artists. As a result, the displays have different forms and significant themes due to the different considerations of the artists. Jordan Thompson, KMA Visitor Services Representative, spoke about his work and the importance of pets.
“Personally, a really big one would be Kara Walker’s ‘Kes to the Cage’ because it’s about racial stereotypes … and I think it’s a really big historical moment,” Thompson said.
They present several lines of incorporating three-dimensional printed pieces. One of these pieces was “Pyre” by Peregrine Honig, who moved individual lithographs into satellites reminding viewers of the harsh working conditions and lives lost in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. Wicks believes “Pyre” is a special piece in the collection.
“Peregrini Honig’s interactive PYRE work pushes the physical boundaries and structural identity of printmaking by taking the form of printed images applied to paper wrapped coat hangers hanging from a metal stand,” Wicks said.
The Knoxville Museum of Art is one of the few national museum venues that has chosen to support this foundational exhibition through its partnership with the University of Tennessee’s top-ranked print art program.
“The UT print program team, in particular, has been a fabulous supporter of the KMA and has been generous in the program’s offering of various types (study visits, lectures, technical demonstrations) in conjunction with the print exhibitions that have been hosted by the KMA,” Wicks said.
The exhibit began in December 2022 and runs through the end of April 2023. Admission to the exhibit and the Knoxville Museum of Art is free.