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Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking
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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.

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KC & Area Printmakers

Ron Adams, American (born 1934). Publisher: The Lawrence Lithography Workshop (founded 1979). Blackburn, 2002. Color lithograph on Rives BFK tan paper, edition 36/80, sheet: 29 1/2 x 39 inches. Purchase: acquired through the generosity of the Print Society, 2003.2. © Ron Adams.

Robert Blackburn advocated for community engagement, racial diversity, and the inclusion of marginalized artists. In the spirit of his practice, we encourage you to support and encourage the many printmakers of the Kansas City area and beyond. The list below is just a sampling of some of these talented artists. Click on the links under each name listed to learn more about their work!

Norman Akers, Artist/ Associate Professor
Fairfax, Oklahoma

Laura Berman, Printmaking Professor,
Kansas City Art Institute
Laura Berman Projects
Prairie Village, Kansas

Ruben Castillo,
Artist/ Educator

Ruben Castillo
Kansas City, MO

Angie Dreher, Michelle Dreher, Ani Volkan/ Founders
Print League KC
Kansas City, MO

Michelle Dreher,

Two Tone Press
Kansas City, MO

Melissa Gonzalez,
Artist/ Printmaker

Melissa Gonzalez Art
Kansas City, KS

Anthony High,
Artist/ Educator

Anthony High Fine Art of the Black Diaspora, LLC
Kansas City, MO

Yoonmi Nam, Artist/ Professor
Yoonmi Nam
Kansas City, MO

Miguel Rivera, Printmaking Chair/
Associate Professor, Kansas City Art Institute
Miguel Rivera Art
Kansas City, MO

Aaron Shipps,
Master Printer/ Publisher

Bedrock Art Editions
Kansas City, MO

Michael Sims,
Owner/ Director

The Lawrence Lithography Workshop
Kansas City, MO

Heinrich Toh,
Heinrich Toh
Kansas City, MO


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 Evelyn Craft Belger and Richard Belger, Hallmark Cards, Inc., and the Robert Lehman Foundation.


Henry Luce Foundation