Historically, studies of early 20th-century Pueblo painting focused on the role non-Native anthropologists, artists and patrons played in fostering and marketing Pueblo art. In the last two decades, there has been a shift in approach spearheaded by scholars in the…
Syracuse University Art Museum Chosen for Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Prints Initiative Grant
The Syracuse University Art Museum is one of 10 university art museums nationwide chosen for inclusion in the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation’s 2023 Frankenthaler Prints Initiative. The award includes a gift of selected original prints by the renowned artist and $25,000 to develop related educational programming.
Helen Frankenthaler, an innovative female artist of her time and an outspoken champion of arts education, is regarded as one of the most important American Abstract Expressionist painters and printmakers of the 20th century. She established and endowed the foundation to advance her legacy and inspire a new generation of practitioners through philanthropic, educational and research initiatives.
The University’s art museum is now one of just 20 academic art museums in the U.S. to receive the award, says Emily Dittman, the museum’s interim director. The museum will receive 10 published prints, a full set of process proofs for one of those prints and the funds to host a project or program for the study, presentation and interpretation of the artworks. This is the second time the grants have been given.
Frankenthaler Prints Initiative grantees are chosen based on the institution’s demonstrated commitment to making the prints a significant collection area and teaching tool, according to Elizabeth Smith, the foundation’s executive director.
“These gifts advance the study of Frankenthaler’s work and invite new scholarly investigation about her printmaking practice. We are excited to see what fresh insights arise from the prints’ inclusion in curricula, curatorial programming and other new academic and artistic contexts at universities fostering the next generation of artists and scholars,” Smith says.
“This grant is very exciting. It distinguishes our art museum as a top-level institution in the country and adds prominent recognition for the strategic work at the museum to build its large and impressive print collections that are used by our University community for interdisciplinary research and projects,” Dittman says.
Melissa Yuen, interim chief curator of SUArt Museum, says the University is extremely fortunate to receive the materials. “Frankenthaler is world-renowned as one of the most prominent American artists of the second half of the 20th century. She came of age when printmaking took off after World War II, then expanded her techniques to push the envelope artistically. She used traditional methods such as lithography, screen printing and woodblock, but added the use of diverse objects such as chainsaws and dental tools in the printmaking process to really upend how prints are made,” says Yuen.
Andrew Saluti, assistant professor and program coordinator of museum studies in the School of Design in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, who with Dittman contacted the foundation upon initially hearing of the initiative, believes the award “is a validation of many years of advocacy for the museum and the extensive print collection that’s been built over the last 50 years. It will act as a conduit for research that crosses archive and art within the University’s holdings.”
The 10 museums selected as a part of the second cohort have few, if any, Frankenthaler prints in their collections. The art museum’s collection currently includes three Frankenthaler works: a painting gifted by alumnus Clement Greenberg ’30 and two screen prints. Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center also maintains the Grace Hartigan papers, which contain correspondence and connections to Frankenthaler. Hartigan was an American Abstract Expressionist painter.
Selections of work going to each museum have yet to be determined. While waiting for the materials to arrive, museum staff members are developing ideas for educational programming and activities about the artist, her processes and her legacy in American art. They plan to involve students and faculty from programs across the University, including museum studies, art history, art education, studio arts, women’s and gender studies, language arts, architecture and anthropology. They also plan to explore ways to engage with the greater Central New York community, including activities for K-12 students and youth outreach efforts, to broaden the gift’s impact.