barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

Lasting Impressions

20th-century Portrait Prints

From etchings to a plasticine print, Lasting Impressions brings together works that document the renaissance of the portrait print from the early 20th century to the present day.

By the late 1800s, printmaking had undergone such monumental technological changes that its status had sunk to that of mere reproduction. However, in response, traditional techniques were revived by many artists, who produced prints that could stand for themselves as works of art. In the later 20th century, more experimental and unorthodox methods were explored, often with dramatic results.

This exhibition explores how artists including Eric Gill, Oskar Kokoschka and Richard Hamilton have used different print processes to convey the personalities and circumstances of sitters as colourful as Quentin Crisp, Lucian Freud, Frank Bruno, Robert Plant  – and even an entire House of Commons – and also their relationships with the artist portraying them. The prints will be accompanied by a range of printmaking tools and books from the University’s Cadbury Research Library and Research and Cultural Collections, for which some of the artists featured produced illustrations. Co-curated by postgraduate students from the University’s Art History, Film and Visual Studies department, the display is the third a collaborative series with the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Above Image: Michael Rothenstein, Michael Rothenstein, 1981. © National Portrait Gallery, London.



Events related to this exhibition have included:

  • Drypoint Print Workshops.
  • A Lunchtime Lecture discussing Portrait Prints from the National Portrait Gallery with Associate Curator, Rosie Broadley.
  •  A Gallery Talk introducing the Lasting Impressions exhibition with Robert Wenley, Deputy Director of the Barber Institute.
  • Hidden Histories: A spy, a spinner and other sitters’ stories by Michael Escolme and Erin Shakespeare, MA students and Co-curators of Lasting Impressions.
  • Creating Lasting Impressions: A Guide to Printmaking Techniques by Annette Eldridge and Anne Russell, MA students and Co-curators of Lasting Impressions.
  • A Lunchtime Lecture exploring Printmaking in 20th-century Portraiture by Gemma Wright, Education and Programme Manager, Leicester Print Workshop.
  • Writing Workshops with Writer in Residence Jacqui Rowe.

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