The Big Americans

Albers, Frankenthaler, Hockney, Johns, Lichtenstein, Motherwell, Rauschenberg, Stella

4 October 2002 - 27 January 2003

What happens when a talented artist experiences the creative environment of a Kenneth Tyler print workshop? The National Gallery of Australia's major collection of editioned original prints, unique proofs, screens, paperworks, illustrated books and multiples produced at the various Tyler workshops from the 1960s to the present day by a select group of artists answers this question. These works document the extraordinary story of artist and printer collaboration in postwar America.

In September 1965, Tyler was in his early 30s when he started his own print workshop, Gemini Ltd, in the back room of a frame shop on Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles. In January 1966, he established the fine print publishing house Gemini GEL [Graphic Editions Limited] further along Melrose Avenue. Gemini GEL achieved its renown because of Tyler's belief in the infinite possibilities of printmaking and the art of collaboration. He said to his artists: 'Here is a workshop, there are no rules, no restrictions, do what you want to do.' He took inspiration from Pablo Picasso's methods of printmaking where the rulebook was thrown out. Otherwise, 'if you have all these "can'ts" in there you change the nature of creativity'. Tyler continued with this philosophy at his later studios, first at Bedford and then at the purpose-built workshop at Mount Kisco - both in upstate New York on the east coast of America.

Many significant artists have produced some of their finest work in an environment that celebrates creativity - a Tyler print workshop. Josef Albers, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella - artists who work in diverse styles to produce their distinctive subject matter - have adopted a range of working practices in collaboration with Tyler. Chameleon-like, the master printer has changed his disposition and approach in response to their different temperaments and needs.

The Big Americans highlights the extraordinary contributions these major artists have made to printmaking from the 1960s to the present. They also excelled in other media, and the exhibition features a selection of key related paintings, sculptures and photographs from international and Australian collections.

For further information please contact:
Jane Kinsman, Senior Curator, International Prints, Drawings & Illustrated Books +61 2 6240 6406 or
Public Affairs +61 2 6240 643