Press release

Terry Winters: Printed Works

June 12 – September 30, 2001
Lila Acheson Wallace Wing

A retrospective exhibition of prints by the American artist Terry Winters will open June 12, 2001, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ninety works created between 1983 and the present, all from the Museum's collection, will be on view through September 30 in the Helen and Michael A. Kimmelman Gallery of the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing for modern art.

Internationally known for his paintings and drawings, Winters (born 1949) is also one of the most distinguished contemporary printmakers. He has explored a wide range of media at workshops such as Universal Limited Art Editions in West Islip, Long Island, and the Aldo Crommelynck studio in Paris. The exhibition will contain a variety of lithographs, etchings, woodcuts, and linoleum cuts, and will feature individual prints as well as complete portfolios of closely related works. On view for the first time in New York will be Winters's 1998 portfolio Set of Ten, etchings issued this year with Perfection, Way, Origin, a text by Swiss literary critic and Jean-Jacques Rousseau scholar Jean Starobinski. This text has just been published in limited edition book form. The book, which contains twenty-eight additional etchings by Winters, is also in the exhibition.

"Terry Winters is an extraordinary draftsman, and this, combined with his virtuosity and inventiveness in handling the techniques of etching, lithography, and relief prints makes his graphic work a source of fascination," said Nan Rosenthal, Consultant in the Department of Modern Art and curator of the exhibition. "The variety of line and touch in Winters's prints and the way the prints interact with his paintings and drawings are also fascinating," she continued.

The imagery in Winters's prints created in the 1980s and early 1990s contains elements of representation. His more recent prints, which are abstract, reflect his interest in the way that the world is linked in ways we cannot always visualize but constantly experience. Neural connections, brain functions, and cyberspace all interest him.

"One classic definition of cyberspace is the place you go when you're on the telephone," says Winters. "It's the informational space out there, not immaterial but incorporeal. I'm interested in how to give a picture of these things we can't see."

Winters's printed works of the 1980s feature objects that float discretely or merge within a field. In more recent prints, the imagery is the field itself, and suggests deep, indeterminate space, as in the artist's two large oil paintings in the collection of the Metropolitan, Reflection Line Method (1997) and Light Source Direction (1997). Winters approaches painting, drawing, and printmaking with equal regard, with no hierarchy that positions painting and drawing above prints.

In the 1983-84 works Morula I, II, and III (morula is Latin for mulberry), Winters's huge forms are drawn from the microscopic world of spherical embryonic masses of fertilized ova. The segmented spheres are built mostly in several velvety blacks with greasy French litho crayons, while finer marking materials, such as pencils, establish much smaller, more delicate forms, including the mulberry itself. Soon after the Morula series, Winters embarked on his first print portfolio in order to combine a range of images into one unified work. Folio (1984-85) is comprised of eleven lithographs, beginning with a title page on which a bouncy orb, reminiscent of a Buckminster Fuller dome, encompasses smaller circles in primary and secondary colors.

In Fourteen Etchings (1989), Winters combined on each sheet a photogravure and a pasted paper element. Each photogravure shows a different part of a human skeleton. This anatomical imagery Winters took from a book by Wilhelm Röntgen, the scientist who discovered X-rays in 1895. Winters then glued separately printed etched sheets to the backing paper containing the photogravures. These glued sheets contain a variety of images, from concentric circles that echo the cranium and eye socket on the skeleton head to a celestial map. He introduced the portfolio with a typeset alphabetical list of the Latin and English names of the major constellations.

The five woodcuts in the series titled Furrows (1989) were made at the Alpine studio of François Lafranca in southeastern Switzerland. Intrigued by the expressive woodcuts of Paul Gauguin and Edvard Munch, Winters exploited and built on the tradition of incorporating the wood grain into the print. Winters first drew and then carved his imagery on blocks of mahogany, a hard wood, pulling, rather than gouging to excise grooves of curving parallel lines in the planks. When the sheets were printed, the grain of the wood appeared horizontally. Winters then re-printed those sheets of paper using inked, uncarved oak in which the grain appeared vertically, forming a moiré pattern. Winters's imagery in Furrows derives in part from illustrations of cross sections of the cranial nervous system.

In Models for Synthetic Pictures (1994), Winters deliberately departed from earlier, more naturalistic imagery and turned to brilliantly colored, complex areas of curved and sometimes angular forms within other forms within outlines. The six linoleum cuts in Glyphs (1995) feature spiderweb-like constructions printed in two colors, black and indigo, on delicate white Japanese paper. Winters cut away his drawings from the linoblock; the easy-to-carve surface lent itself to his lively complexity of lines. The areas left in relief were printed with a black oil ink; then, following a linocut technique conceived by Picasso in the early 1960s—épreuves rincées, or "rinsed proofs"—Winters had the entire sheets rinsed with a water-based indigo dye. The blue dye adhered only to the areas left blank on the white paper and did not adhere to the black-inked relief areas. Because the ink was oil-based and the dye water-based, the two resisted each other, and a slight halo effect was created where they met.

The nine woodcuts that comprise Graphic Primitives (1998) contain loosely structured grids crossed by diagonals and encircled by elliptical lines. To make these prints Winters scanned his own drawings into a computer and manipulated them with a graphics program. The resulting sharply defined lines narrow and thicken. A disk of the computer-manipulated images was sent to a machinist who incised them with a laser onto blocks of cherry wood, creating the reliefs that were then printed.

The depth that Winters achieves in his paintings occurs, in part, through color changes, contrasting networks of lines, and the layering of both. In the etching Internal and External Values (1998), the Prussian blue ink reflects, in tones from richly opaque to pale and nearly transparent, the different levels of the etching on the plate. This helps to establish the complex depth in the print. Winters makes the dense grid of the field even more complicated with emphatic ellipses in Multiple Visualization Technique (1998), a large vertical etching made from four plates in four colors: yellow, red, blue, and black.

Terry Winters was born June 1, 1949, in Brooklyn, New York. He attended the High School of Art and Design and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in 1971. His first one-artist exhibition took place in 1982. In 1991-92 a midcareer retrospective of his work was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

He has also had one-artist exhibitions at the Tate Gallery in London, the Kunstmuseum, Lucerne, Switzerland, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and in 1999 at the IVAM Institut Valencia d'Art Modern in Spain and the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London. Winters is married to the art historian Hendel Teicher. They live in New York and in Geneva, Switzerland.

A lecture on Saturday, September 9, at 3:00 p.m. in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium will feature Terry Winters and Richard Shiff, Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art, Director of the Center for the Study of Modernism, University of Texas at Austin. Poetry readings, gallery talks, and other educational programs will also be offered in conjunction with the exhibition. The Museum's Web site ( will feature the exhibition.

A catalogue, written by Nan Rosenthal, will accompany the exhibition. Terry Winters: Printed Works, published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press, will be available in the Museum's bookshop for $14.95 (paperback). The accompanying publication is made possible in part by the Roswell L. Gilpatric Fund for Publications. The catalogue both documents the Metropolitan's exhibition and brings up to the present the listing of Winters's print production since the 1999 catalogue raisonné by Nancy Sojka, which will also be available in the Museum's bookshop.

When the exhibition was first conceived, the Metropolitan owned 62 prints by Winters, many purchased with funds from the Reba and Dave Williams Gift. A gift of 37 additional lithographs and etchings was made early in 2001 by Susan Sosnick, the widow of Robert Sosnick, in memory of her late husband. Mr. Sosnick, a Detroit businessman and arts patron, was an ardent collector of Terry Winters's work in all media. His children, Karen Sosnick Schoenberg, Anthony J. Sosnick, and Catherine Sosnick Schwartz, encouraged Susan Sosnick's gift to the Museum. Seven prints dating from 1999 to 2001 were donated by Robert and Lynda Shapiro of Mission, Kansas, or by the artist.

Terry Winters: Printed Works is organized by Nan Rosenthal, Consultant, in the Department of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exhibition design is by Daniel Kershaw with graphic design by Barbara Weiss, Graphic Designer, and lighting by Zack Zanolli, Lighting Designer.


May 29, 2001

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