Degas, Lichtenstein, and Rembrandt van Rijn: A New CMA Exhibition Chronicles 600 Years of Printmaking
By Cleveland Museum of Art staff
This weekend, the Cleveland Museum of Art opens an exhibition that features more than 70 prints by masters such as Edgar Degas, Roy Lichtenstein, and Rembrandt van Rijn, tracing the history of European printmaking over the course of six centuries. The breadth of the prints in the exhibition is so varied it may be surprising to learn that they entered the CMA’s collection from the same source — the Print Club of Cleveland.
A Lasting Impression: Gifts of the Print Club of Cleveland is organized in celebration of the centennial anniversary of the Print Club of Cleveland — the first museum affiliate group in the United States. Since its founding in 1919, the Print Club has supported the CMA through its twofold mission to enrich the institution’s world-class print collection and to promote interest in the history of printmaking.
“The Print Club’s importance to the CMA, particularly to its Department of Prints and Drawings, cannot be overstated,” said Emily Peters, the museum’s curator of prints and drawings. “The club was founded before there was a print curator or an official department of prints. The efforts of its members in the early years were what led to the professionalization of the department and its foundation as one of the great print collections in the United States.”
“This exhibition presents just a sliver of the great works that have come to the CMA via the club’s support. In fact, these donations have covered so much ground over the past 100 years — from Old Masters to French Impressionism to American regionalism and from the Cleveland School to contemporary art — that there is rarely a case when an exhibition we mount does not include a print donated by the club,” Peters said.
What is the Print Club of Cleveland, what are their goals as a club, and how do you join? Learn all these answers and more in the below Q & A with Neal Rains, president of the Print Club of Cleveland, and Margaret Dobbins, centennial chair.
What is the Print Club of Cleveland?
Neal Rains (NR): The Print Club is an organization for Cleveland Museum of Art members who enjoy learning about and collecting fine prints. The club has an active schedule that combines social and educational programs. We have nearly 250 members who are interested in prints by Old Masters to contemporary artists. As a group we learn a lot and have fun doing it.
What has the Print Club done over the years for the CMA?
NR: The club was founded to encourage individuals to collect prints and to support the museum’s print collection. The club has been very generous in supporting the museum, having donated thousands of prints and drawings and having financed a print library when the museum expanded.
What are some of the most significant works the Print Club has donated to the CMA?
Margaret Dobbins (MD): Where to start? Gifts from the Print Club include impressions by the rock stars of printmaking, truly unsurpassed works by masters of every period. To name a few: The Apocalypse: The Four Horsemen by Albrecht Dürer, Amazon by Stanley William Hayter, Cathedral #3 by Roy Lichtenstein, The Nativity by Martin Schongauer, Christ Preaching (La Petit Tombe) by Rembrandt, Esteral Village by Edgar Degas, and Man with a Guitar by Pablo Picasso. An outstanding sample of gifts can be seen in the exhibition.
What inspired your love of prints and print collecting?
NR: When I moved to Cleveland to begin my career, I started visiting galleries and the Cleveland Museum of Art. I enjoyed the great variety of available prints and began to learn about the different methods of printmaking. I also found prints to be affordable, and hanging them in my office and home to admire regularly gave me a lot of satisfaction. Some of the prints I bought when I started collecting are still favorites.
MD: Prints are for everyone. Their affordability allows you to have beautiful things in your home. After buying for a while, some collectors narrow down their interests and others expand. You can be drawn to images with bridges or buildings, children or chapels, landscapes or abstract subjects. Maybe only the newest will do, or perhaps those rare works from hundreds of years ago speak to you. It’s all fun: the hunting, the buying, and then living with your treasures.
How does it feel to be a part of the club’s centennial anniversary?
NR: The CMA has an outstanding print collection known for its high quality. It’s a great feeling to be able to contribute to a world-class collection and to know that other people will have a chance to see something you enjoy. Many Print Club members have donated works to the museum, in addition to the club’s contributions.
As club president, I feel a lot of pressure to not screw up! Seriously, the club members have a lot to be proud of. It’s remarkable to think that the club is entering its second century with a strong and engaged membership, a great history of support for the museum’s print collection, and a host of programs that are both informative and fun. I firmly believe that this is the best organization of its kind in the US, if not the world; our past and present members have made that happen.
What does the Print Club hope to achieve over the next 100 years?
NR: That’s a very interesting question and something the club is addressing. A planning committee is thinking about the club’s future, and we are asking our members to give us their thoughts through a survey and focus groups. The club plans to remain strong, vibrant, and relevant. We will continue our support of the museum and we will expand our activities with other museum support groups. We also want to continue to work with the art departments of area schools and with other arts organizations in the community.
MD: More art!
How does someone join?
NR: If you are interested in joining, contact our staff liaison at the museum, Alex Czajkowski, at firstname.lastname@example.org or ask any member of the Print Club. To join, you must be a member of the CMA, and two club members must support your application for membership. If you do not know any club members, many of our programs are open to nonmembers, so stop by and let us know you are interested. Our website, printclubcleveland.org, also has information about our programs and the club. We welcome anyone who is interested in joining.
Neal Rains joined the Print Club in 1979. An active member, he has been the club’s president since 2014. Additionally, he has served as a trustee and on the Fine Print Fair committee.
Margaret Dobbins joined the Print Club in 2007. Since then she has served as vice president and as co-chair of the Fine Print Fair. She is currently the Print Club centennial chair.