Exhibition explores artist’s reinvention of printmaking across four decades, highlighting recent and rarely seen works

BRUNSWICK — The first retrospective of prints by the contemporary American artist Richard Tuttle (born 1941) will open June 28 at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art through Oct. 19. “Richard Tuttle: A Print Retrospective” will highlight the experimental nature of Tuttle’s print practice and will mark the first time that many of these prints have been exhibited by a museum.

Presenting a selection of more than 100 prints from the 1970s to today, created by Tuttle in collaboration with some of the country’s premier print studios, the exhibition will demonstrate the pivotal role of printmaking in Tuttle’s artistic practice, as an incubator of new ideas and a tool for collaboration and communication.

By presenting four decades of Tuttle’s print works together for the first time, this retrospective will shed new light on the artist’s ongoing questioning of the fundamental principles of printmaking. To mark the opening of this major exhibition, the artist will participate in a keynote address at the BCMA at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 28, alongside Chris Dercon, director of the Tate Modern, London; and Christina von Rotenhan, art historian and co-curator of the retrospective.

“It has been an incredible process to collaborate with Tuttle to bring long overdue attention to his complex and intriguing prints,” said Frank Goodyear, co-director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

“Tuttle’s sensitivity to medium, color, and line, his playful testing of boundaries, and his infectious spirit of inquiry will all have a unique resonance at the BCMA, a historic museum situated on the campus of a liberal arts college,” continued Anne Collins Goodyear, co-director of the BCMA.

An unprecedented exploration of Tuttle’s printmaking, the exhibit demonstrates how, in collaboration with master printers and renowned publishers, Tuttle has created prints that engage in traditional techniques—such as etching, woodblock, and lithography—and simultaneously question and reinvent the basic tenets of printmaking itself.

With active participation from the artist, the installation will follow a chronological order to emphasize the dramatic evolution of Tuttle’s printmaking across the past four decades—beginning with the post-minimal, conceptually driven work of the 1970s to the poetic investigations of the print medium in the 1990s, to the exuberant explorations of color in the 2000s, and the playful engagement of unconventional materials in this decade.

Additional works in the exhibition will open up a vibrant dialogue between Tuttle’s prints and other aspects of his oeuvre. A particular highlight will include the installation of Tuttle’s early lithograph series Interlude: Kinesthetic Drawings (1974) alongside the closely-related work Wire Piece (1972-1974)—a sculptural work that reflects Tuttle’s early thinking about the nature of lines in time and space, which will be installed by the artist on site in the BCMA’s galleries.

Tuttle spends a significant amount of time each year in Maine on Mount Desert Island.

Fully accessible, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art is open to the public free of charge from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday during the Tuttle exhibition.

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