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First Impressions from The Pratt Graphics Center Print Collection

by Johanna Bauman on 2024-04-30T15:53:00-04:00 in Archives, Art History, Library Collections, Pratt Institute Archives | 0 Comments

Post by Alyse Delaney, Special Collections and Archives Graduate Assistant, 2022-2024.

In 2019, the Pratt Archives acquired a collection of 580 prints previously held by the Institute’s printmaking department. The collection includes lithographs, etchings, and screen prints believed to have been produced or exhibited at the Pratt Graphics Center during its operation from 1956 through 1986. No one knows exactly when or how the prints made the journey from the Center’s location in Manhattan to the Institute’s Brooklyn campus, but for many years they laid quietly waiting in a flat-file cabinet ready to be rediscovered. Upon recognizing their value, Caitlin Riordan, Printmaking Technician and Visiting Instructor, sorted the prints by technique, safely packed them up, and delivered them to their permanent home here in the Archives. An initial inventory of the collection was created by the Archives, but when the pandemic hit in 2020, processing was put on pause. This year, I set out to finally piece together some of the mysteries surrounding the collection in preparation for making the prints accessible to researchers. 

Workshop view of the Pratt Graphics Center.

Workshop view of the Pratt Graphics Center. Right to left: Shigeru Izumi, Bernece Hunter, Deli Sacilotto, Emiliano Sorini, and Michael Ponce de Leon. Published in Print Review, No. 13: American Prints and Printmaking, 1956-1981

The Pratt Graphics Center (also known as the Pratt Graphic Art Center, or PGAC for short) was a printmaking studio that provided workshop space and professional printing services for artists, offered classes in printmaking techniques, and held exhibitions showcasing the work of guest artists and students from all over the world. It was first established in 1956 when Margaret Lowengrund, founder and director of the Contemporaries Gallery, teamed up with Fritz Eichenberg, esteemed illustrator and member of the Pratt Institute faculty, to establish a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the work of contemporary graphic artists. During its three decades of in existence, hundreds of notable and emerging artists passed through The Pratt Graphics Center. These prints, many of them artists’ and printers’ proofs, gifts to the Center’s directors, and remnants from exhibitions, provide a glimpse into the groundbreaking artwork created at the studio.

Processing the Collection 

The primary goals of processing this collection were to make the prints more readily accessible to researchers and to prepare them for long term physical preservation. This meant finalizing an inventory and description of the collection so that it could be added as a separate Artwork Series in the Records of the Pratt Graphics Center, and rehousing the prints into archival folders that would protect them for the long future. In talking to Archivist Brendan Enright, Digital Initiatives Coordinator Travis Werlen, and Associate Director for Collections Management Johanna Bauman, we also decided that digitizing the prints would greatly increase the accessibility of this collection and the potential for researchers to uncover new discoveries in the collection.

With these goals in mind, I got to work physically rearranging and rehousing the prints. First, I measured the prints in groups to determine how much file space and what containers we would need to store them. Next, I began sorting the prints by size, making sure to maintain their original organization by technique as much as possible. I then placed the prints into archival folders and interleaved glassine between them to ensure their surfaces would be protected. The final touches included labeling the folders and recording their final physical location in the collection’s finding aid.

          A folder of prints after being interleaved with glassine, showing La Casa Nueva by Emilio Sanchez.

                                           Left: Unpacking the prints from the cases in which they arrived at the Archives, showing Ream Clean by Suzi Ferrer, 1971. Right: A folder of prints after being interleaved with glassine, showing La Casa Nueva by Emilio Sanchez.


As the scope of the collection slowly came into focus, I realized it showcases the work of a wide variety of artists whose careers crossed paths at the Center. In my research, I discovered many artists who frequently exhibited and collaborated together, which speaks to the importance of the studio for building relationships. The temporal coverage of the collection also reveals not only what specific artists at the Pratt Graphics Center were creating, but also speaks to larger trends in mid-century printmaking. The majority of the prints in this collection were created between the late 1960s and early 1970s, but span as early as 1933 and as late as 2009. Prints created after the Center’s closure in 1986 are likely those of Pratt students which snuck into this collection during its time living in the printmaking department, while the earlier ones may have been exhibited at one of the Center’s many exhibitions and just never returned to the artists or lenders.

Shifting techniques in printmaking are particularly evident in the work of Minna Citron, a Pratt faculty member and frequent guest at the Center. The prints in our collection show her evolution from social realist in the 1930s and 1940s towards geometric abstraction by the 1960s. Given that the Pratt Graphics Center did not open until 1956, it is unclear how we ended up with seven of Citron’s pre-1956 lithographs. 

Minna Citron, Subway Technique, 1933, lithograph.     Minna Citron, Nutation, 1962, intaglio.

Left: Minna Citron, Subway Technique, 1933, lithograph. All rights reserved. Right: Minna Citron, Nutation, 1962, intaglio.  All rights reserved.

One of the workshop’s primary functions was printing series for guest artists, so it is likely that a majority of these prints are the remnants of the work they produced during their time at the workshop. Many are artist’s proofs that perhaps remained at the studio after an artist editioned a series. Others seem to have been gifted to the Center by the artists in thanks for their work. A handful of works include thank you notes specifically addressed to Andrew Stasik, who took over the directorship of the Pratt Graphics Center in 1972.

Libor Wagner, [unknown title], 1966. 

Libor Wagner, [unknown title], 1966, signed “To Mr. Stasik with kind regards.”  All rights reserved.


The collection also speaks to the work undertaken by the Pratt Graphics Center to support emerging artists. Some prints seem to have been from portfolios that the Center produced and sold in order to fund scholarships and other opportunities for young artists. The first of its kind, titled “Eleven Prints by Eleven Printmakers,” was produced in 1961 and supported the Margaret Lowengrund Scholarship Fund, which Fritz Eichenberg established after his partner’s premature death in 1957. The sales from the portfolio provided funding for artists to study at the Center, and included works by Shigeru Izumi, Jacob Landau, Michael Ponce de Leon, and Andrew Stasik. 

A similarly titled portfolio was created in 1969. “Ten Prints by Ten Printmakers” includes three prints that the Archives now holds: “Soldat” by Vasilios Toulis, “Section of an English Facade” by Clayton Pond, and “Winona” by Stephen Poleskie. The portfolio’s colophon states that the folio consisted of a limited edition of 100 signed and numbered original prints, with each artist retaining 10 artist’s proofs and 15 reserved for the contributors and presentation. Perhaps some of the editions or artist’s proofs were left behind at the workshop after the portfolio was produced, eventually making their way into this collection. 

Vasilios Toulis, Soldat, [undated].     Clayton Pond, Section of an English Facade, [undated], screenprint.

Left: Vasilios Toulis, Soldat, [undated]. All rights reserved. Right: Clayton Pond, Section of an English Facade, [undated], screenprint. All rights reserved.

Steve Poleskie, Winona, [undated], screenprint.

Steve Poleskie, Winona, [undated], screenprint. All rights reserved.

Many of the prints in the collection were also previously on display at exhibitions hosted by the Pratt Graphics Center. A group of fourteen prints were exhibited in the 1976 show, “Young American Printmakers” which featured the work of 48 university printmaking students from across the country. In the press release for the exhibition, Stasik describes the prints as reflecting the up-and-coming work of a new generation of printmakers.

Meredith Wenzel, A Year Has Past… , 1974, lithograph. Featured in “Young American Printmakers.”       Frederick Eugene Hawkins, Grandfather Restated, 1975, screenprint. Featured in “Young American Printmakers.”

Left: Meredith Wenzel, A Year Has Past… , 1974, lithograph. All Rights Reserved. Right: Frederick Eugene Hawkins, Grandfather Restated, 1975, screenprint. All Rights Reserved. (Right) Both of these prints were featured in Young American Printmakers.

The three prints previously mentioned from “Ten Prints by Ten Printmakers” were also featured in a 1970 exhibition of original prints by artists of the Pratt Graphics Center, alongside others in our collection such as “Rooted Lily” by Hon-Chi Fun, “Prehistoric”by Tadeusz Lapinski, “Propagation-100-S” by Takesada Matsutani, and “Chicago II” by Kate Van Houten. Speaking of relationships developed at the Pratt Graphics Center– Takesada Matsutani and Kate Van Houten were lifelong partners in both their artistic and personal lives. They first met in 1967 in Paris and probably worked together at the Center in the late 1960s. There are twelve total prints by Matsutani in this collection, and two by Van Houten.

Takesada Matsutani, LA Propagation - noire, 1976, intaglio.       Kate Van Houten, Chicago II, 1969, screenprint.

Left: Takesada Matsutani, LA Propagation - noire, 1976, intaglio. All Rights Reserved. Right: Kate Van Houten, Chicago II, 1969, screenprint. All Rights Reserved.

Perhaps what is most striking about the collection is how the prints reflect the Center’s support of international exchange between artists from around the world. Articles published by the Pratt Graphics Center in Print Review and Artist’s Proof showcase global trends in the graphic arts. For instance, Volume 10 of Artist’s Proof included a far reaching survey of contemporary printmaking ranging from Asia to Eastern Europe to Latin America. Among the artists in this collection who were mentioned in this issue are Prawat Laucheron (Thailand), Ruth Bessoudo Courvoisier (Brazil), Ernesto Fontecilla (Chile), Jiri John (Czechia) , and Ryszard K. Otreba (Poland). The international reach of the Pratt Graphics Center can be attributed to funding opportunities from the Rockefeller Foundation, which provided grants to emerging artists from around the world to come study at the workshop. This positioned the Pratt Graphics Center as New York City’s premiere international printmaking studio. 

This international focus is also evident in the many prints by modern Japanese printmakers in this collection. Many of these artists came to the Pratt Graphics Center under the influence of Uchima Ansei, a faculty member who often acted as a liaison connecting Japanese artists from abroad to the workshop. Shigeru Izumi, for instance, came to New York in 1960 to continue his work in lithography. Others include Hideo Hagiwara, Hodaka Yoshida, Risaburo Kimura, Shigeru Narikawa, Shunji Sakuyama, and Shoichi Ida.

     Shunji Sakuyama, [unknown title], 1975, silkscreen.

Left: Shigeru Izumi, Sound, [undated], lithograph. All Rights Reserved. Right: Shunji Sakuyama, [unknown title], 1975, silkscreen. All Rights Reserved.

Next Steps

Over the past year, I was able to piece together several mysteries surrounding this collection. What started out as a group of unknown prints hidden away, revealed itself to be a valuable resource capturing the history of mid-century printmaking and the Pratt Graphics Center. Out of the 580 total prints, I was able to attribute 356 of them to known artists, but there is still so much more waiting for researchers to uncover. Now that the collection has been processed, visitors to the Pratt Archives will be able to utilize the resources of the Records of the Pratt Graphics Center alongside some of the very same artworks produced by the workshop. 

Some items from the Pratt Archives on display in “A Model Workshop””: the exhibition catalog for “Pratt Graphic Talent 1965” (front, center), and an untitled print by Miroslav Šutej, 1965 (far right, on the wall).

As more and more people study this collection, this also means that the prints will be able to be placed in new contexts. Recently, the Archives loaned five prints by Kang Yul Yoo, Lowell Nesbitt, Miroslav Šutej, Valerie Thornton, and Erich Mönch to the Print Center New York for their exhibition, “A Model Workshop: Margaret Lowengrund and The Contemporaries.” The exhibition was on display from September 21 through December 23, 2023 and examined Margaret Lowengrund’s understudied work as a champion of mid-century printmaking and artistic lithography. While her time with the Pratt Graphics Center was cut short due to her premature passing, the exhibition shows how her work had a lasting impact on the field of printmaking. It was incredibly exciting and illuminating to see the work of so many familiar artists on display next to one another, and to see how they are all a part of this legacy. 

Visiting the Collection & Additional Resources

The Pratt Institute Archives welcomes all researchers, including Pratt Institute students, faculty, and staff, and members of the public. Appointments to view this collection must be made in advance, and can be scheduled by emailing

Digitization of the print collection is currently underway. So far, 51 prints have been photographed, and are available via the Pratt Institute Libraries' Digital Collections. Due to copyright restrictions of the materials, online access is restricted to on-site usage at Pratt Institute or remotely to Pratt affiliates. 

To learn more about the history of the Pratt Graphics Center, check out Sarah Cuk’s blog post: “Collecting the Pratt Graphics Center: A Tale of Reconciliation.” 

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