Lennon, Weinberg, Inc.
The works on paper of H. C. Westermann (1922-1981) are recognized for their distinctive graphic style, a brilliant use of personal and cultural narrative, and the incorporation of language and humor. His drawings, sketchbooks and illustrated letters make clear how closely linked his works on paper are to his sculpture for all their apparent dissimilarity. His linocuts, woodcuts and lithographs restate and expand upon the images and themes of his drawings, and it was in the medium of lithography that he found the closest corollary to his drawing style.
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Westermann made lithographs on only three occasions. In 1967 he was invited to the Kansas City Art Institute where he worked with master printer Jack Lemon, producing five independent prints. In 1968 he produced a suite of eighteen lithographs at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles entitled See America First. And in 1972, he worked with Jack Lemon again at Landfall Press in Chicago, which resulted in another suite titled simply Six Lithographs. This exhibition will include all of these works.
Some of the lithographs are made with just one or two colors. Those prints are similar to his drawings of that period, generally drawn with ink, with ink wash or watercolor. Certain lithographs are delicately drawn and colored while others, particularly those made with Jack Lemon, are printed with many, more vivid colors. Westermann’s skill with the materials and processes involved with lithography was impressive from the start and became only more so during the course of the work.
Cargo ships, derelict buildings and diverse characters appear in wastelands from the Arctic to the Amazon. Flashes of violence contrast with lovingly imagined exotic landscapes; references to movie genres abound. The inclusion of the symbols p and C in Red Planet "J" and The Green Planet, for example, link these prints to early 1950s B-movies Rocketship X-M and Red Planet Mars, both of which conveyed messages of impending doom and scant hope for salvation from nuclear devastation. The principal source for Port of Shadows was the 1938 French classic Le Quai des Brunes. The images that constitute the series See America First are alternately tender and sardonic responses to several cross-country road trips Westermann made in the 1960s. The richly drawn and printed scenes of Six Lithographs reflect the growing complexity of the artist’s drawings to which he was currently devoting increasing attention, and this suite presents the central narratives of his graphic works.
Two important exhibitions of H. C. Westermann’s works will be on view this winter. A large retrospective exhibition of his sculptural works and related drawings is on view at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. (February 14-May 12, 2002); and an exhibition presenting all of Westermann’s printed works from his early 1960’s linocuts to the 1975 woodcuts, along with studies, related drawings, proofs and working materials is on view at the University of Virginia Art Museum in Charlottesville (January 26-March 31, 2002). Originating at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago respectively, both exhibitions will travel to additional venues in Los Angeles and Houston.
Please contact the gallery for additional information.