The Power of Portraiture: Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints

October 13, 2022
February 7, 2023

The Department of Drawings and Prints boasts more than one million drawings, prints, and illustrated books made in Europe and the Americas from around 1400 to the present day. Because of their number and sensitivity to light, the works can only be exhibited for a limited period and are usually housed in on-site storage facilities. To highlight the vast range of works on paper, the department organizes four rotations a year in the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery. Each installation is the product of a collaboration among curators and consists of up to 100 objects grouped by artist, technique, style, period, or subject.

Featuring a dazzling selection of prints and drawings ranging in date from the early seventeenth century to the present and including several new acquisitions, the current installation explores themes of artistic lineage and homage with a primary focus on portraiture. At its heart are works by members of Black Women of Print, a collective founded by Tanekeya Word to promote the visibility of Black women printmakers and create an equitable future within the discipline of printmaking. These dynamic images pay tribute to earlier Black women artists, among them Elizabeth Catlett and Emma Amos, whose works are also on view. Their prints, along with those by Lorna Simpson, Charles White, Fred Wilson, and John Wilson, reveal the expressive potential of portraiture.