Recent Print Acquisitions selected by the curators: Stephen Coppel
Stephen Coppel, Assistant Keeper: Head of Modern and Contemporary Prints and Drawings (1880 to the present)
Marwan Kassab-Bach Gesichtslandschaft
Marwan, who migrated from Syria to Germany in 1957, was greatly influenced by memories of his home country. From the 1970s, when this print was made, he focused on the human face. This was usually his own face, as shown here, which he called ‘face landscapes’ that tell the story of his own cultural transplantation. One of the leading Middle Eastern artists of his generation, his work is a bridge to Europe while remaining rooted in the memory of his homeland. Marwan died in Berlin in 2016. This haunting etching of the anguish of exile appeared on the stand of Emmanuel von Baeyer at the 2018 Frieze Masters fair which presented a group of Marwan’s etchings. Several of Marwan’s etchings and drawings had already been acquired a few years earlier by Venetia Porter, curator for Islamic and contemporary Middle East art at the British Museum. This etching is included in her exhibition Reflections: contemporary art of the Middle East and North Africa, which will be the first show in our Prints and Drawings gallery when the British Museum reopens from lockdown on 17 May.
Pablo Bronstein Designs for Clocks decorated with Feathers in the Indigenous Taste I
The British Museum has a world-famous horological collection but perhaps nothing quite as fanciful as this! Pablo Bronstein, the Argentine-born British artist, who combines his interest in art and architecture with performance and installation, made Designs for Clocks decorated with Feathers in the Indigenous Taste as a set of four hand-coloured etchings for the not-for-profit organization Studio Voltaire in Clapham, London. The British Museum set is uniquely hand-coloured in yellow and green (outside the edition of 25 uniformly hand-coloured in red and blue). The clocks are shown without hands in emulation of historical clock designs in which the hands were usually omitted. Purchased from Studio Voltaire in 2016, these were the first works by Bronstein to enter the British Museum’s collection.
Ed Ruscha Raw
Ruscha revels in ‘hot’ words that appeal to him because they have a visual ‘temperature’. Raw is one such example from the early 1970s when he was exploring trompe l’oeil imagery in his printmaking. Here the letters appear to be formed from folds of paper that recall the accordion folds of his 1966 artist’s book Every Building on the Sunset Strip. The disembodied word floats within an empty space of an egg-yolk colour. Whether intended or not, it prompts to my mind the suggestion of a cracked raw egg. Produced at Cirrus Editions in Los Angeles, this print was published by Bernard Jacobson in London in 1971 in an edition of 90. We purchased this example almost fifty years later when Bernard Jacobson showed it at the London Original Print Fair in 2017.