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Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking

Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking

Location: Galleries L8 and 214

Master Printer Robert Blackburn (1920–2003) made a tremendous impact on printmaking in the United States. Over a career that spanned six decades, his avant-garde ideas propelled American modernism forward and affirmed printmaking as fine art.

An heir to the Harlem Renaissance, an influential teacher, celebrated collaborator, and pioneering artist, Blackburn embraced democracy in terms of the creative process and access to art. In 1947, he founded a printmaking workshop as a welcoming and inclusive space where artists of all levels could learn and create together.

Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking situates Blackburn beside his teachers, friends, and collaborators with whom he engaged throughout his life. It features approximately 60 prints and related materials by Blackburn and the artists with whom he collaborated, including Grace Hartigan, Robert Rauschenberg, Elizabeth Catlett, and Romare Bearden, among others.

For groups interested in learning more about the artwork on view in this exhibition, please request a Free Exhibition Tour.

Exhibition Programs | Talks

Robert Blackburn: Community-Driven Artist
Thurs, April 23 | 6-7 pm

Curator is IN!
Thurs, July 16 | 6:30-7 pm

Exhibition Programs | Events

Community Printmaking Crawl
Sat, June 20 | Noon-4 pm | OFFSITE

Third Thursday
Print it Forward
Thurs, July 16 | 6-9 pm


Heavy Forms

Blue Things

Red Inside

Images: All by Robert Blackburn, American (1920–2003). Stockholm, 1988. Lithograph, 16 x 20 inches. Wesley and Missy Cochran Collection. Photograph by Karl Peterson. Heavy Forms, 1961. Color lithograph, 15 3/4 x 19 1/2 inches. Wesley and Missy Cochran Collection. Photograph by Karl Peterson. Blue Things, 1963–1970. Color woodcut, 20 x 26 inches. Wesley and Missy Cochran Collection. Photograph by Karl Peterson. Girl in Red, 1950. Color lithograph, 18 1/4 x 12 1/2 inches. The Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art. Red Inside, 1972, Color woodcut, 12 × 11 1/2 inches. Nelson/Dunks Collection. Photograph by Greg Staley.
Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and curated by Deborah Cullen, in cooperation with The Trust for Robert Blackburn and The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts’ Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Program. This exhibition is supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and funding from the Smithsonian’s Provost Office. In Kansas City, the exhibition is supported by the Robert Lehman Foundation.


Henry Luce Foundation

Sunday: Closed
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: Closed
Friday: Closed
Saturday: Closed