Gallery spotlight: Coughlin & Blatas

As a component of the exhibition, A Chicken in Every Pot and Affordable Art in Every Home, group curated by Dr. Slipp’s Spring 2021 Museum Studies class, student were assigned two prints each. They researched the artworks and wrote catalogue entries and labels for adults and children. Sticking to a tight word count, students produced different kinds of writing for different audiences.

The texts below were authored by AUM student Nyaradzai Mahachi

Jack Coughlin (American, b. 1932)

Walt Whitman, 1973

Woodcut, 11.75 x 8 inches

Label for AdultsBeginning his career as a printmaker, Jack Coughlin’s expertise in the medium is demonstrated in this clean and precise woodcut portrait of Walt Whitman. Note his attention to detail in the delicate cuts of the hair versus the careful precision using large flat cut outs to portray the shirt, bow tie, and jacket. The viewer is presented with an accurate representation of the American poet, best known for his epic poetry collection Leaves of Grass, published in 1855.

Label for KidsThe artist Jack Coughlin is well known for his portraits of literary figures. This is a woodcut portrait of the American poet, essayist, and journalist Walt Whitman. Does he not look like a writer?

Catalogue entry Born in 1932 in Greenwich, Connecticut, Jack Coughlin studied at the Rhode Island School of Design where he received both a BFA and an MFA. The figurative artist is best known for woodcuts of literary figures and musicians and is celebrated for his combination of innovative and traditional techniques in intaglio and lithography. He contributed three original prints to the AAA.

Starting off his career as a printmaker in the early 1960’s, by the age of 36 he was one of the foremost graphic artists in America. Walt Whitman, shows his keen eye for detail and well-developed skills in print making. The artist’s ability to achieve clean precise prints is reflected in this portrait through the detail, expressive hair, and overall clean look. Furthermore, it is a portrait of an American poet highlighting his interest in representing literary figures.

Sources Consulted

“Jack Coughlin,” http://www.artoftheprint.com/artistpages/ coughlin_jack_owl2.htm#:~:text=Coughlin%20is%20known%20to%20have,the%20A.A.A.%20during%20this%20time

“Jack Coughlin,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Coughlin_(artist)

Arbit Blatas (Lithuanian, 1908-1999)

Ponte Des Arts, Paris, 1953

Lithograph, 8.5 x 14 inches

Label for Adults Often described as “cosmopolitan,” Arbit Blatas demonstrates the seasoned skills that he acquired through travel in his beautiful depiction of Ponte Des Arts, Paris. This expressively rendered landscape depicting the bridge, river, buildings, trees, and people, shows his expertise in lithography. His craftsmanship enables him to create a scene of everyday activities that occur in this area, teleporting the viewer to experience a sunny day in Paris.

Label for KidsThis is a lithograph depicting a view of a pedestrian bridge in Paris that crosses the river Seine. Can you see how the artist vividly depicts the water in the river without using color?

Catalogue entry Born in 1908 in Lithuania and reared in Russia, Arbit Blatas trained in France and then during World War II, fled to the US where he became an American citizen. Throughout his life he received many accolades. He had his first exhibit age 15 in his native country, by 21 was the youngest member of the school of Paris, and at 24, the Galerie National du Jeu Paume in Paris acquired his first work. He contributed two lithographs to the AAA.

Ponte Des Arts, Paris, demonstrates Blatas’s skills acquired from his travels and interest in scenery. Although this is a landscape the artist’s personal style is imbedded in this lithograph. His precision is conveyed through carefully drawn lines, which create implied movement in the ripples of the water. His eye for detail is evident in the rendering of the trees, hinting at the wind blowing the branches and falling leaves.

Sources Consulted

“What is a Lithograph?” https://seasideart.com/blogs/blog/what-is-an-original-lithograph

“Arbit Blatas,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbit_Blatas

“Arbit Blatas,” https://whitney.org/collection/works/19972

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