California Abstract Expressionist

Dean Brochure_Page_1.jpg

On view: September 10 - October 25, 2003
Curated by: Faye Hirsch

Open press release
Open full checklist
Open brochure with curatorial essay

Charles Randall Dean began collecting Abstract Expressionist prints in 1987 and has since amassed one of the most impressive caches of this material in private hands. At first, he had little competition, for very few people knew of the existence of these works. Dean soon discovered that, because there was no market at the time the prints were made, artists had produced them in tiny editions or as unique works. Through persistence, enthusiasm, and his growing erudition, Dean found himself making friends with the artists, a number of whom were still living. Memories were awakened, boxes opened, and prints rediscovered by their makers. Dean’s is surely one of the more fascinating adventures to be recounted in the annals of print collecting. Revisionist accounts of postwar abstraction in the United States have, in the past decade or so, remedied some misconceptions. First-generation Abstract Expressionism was long seen as the domain of a small coterie of male artists living and working—pretty much on canvas—in New York. Now we have a more considered idea of its demographics, geography, and range of material experimentation. Susan Landauer, for example, has exposed the vital postwar San Francisco arts community that was partly fueled by the California School of Fine Arts and the North Beach jazz and poetry scene. The notion that postwar abstractionists rejected printmaking has been buried at last by The Stamp of Impulse: Abstract Expressionist Prints, a 2001–02 traveling exhibition and catalogue. Its curator, David Acton, began collecting Abstract Expressionist prints for the Worcester Art Museum at around the same time that Dean undertook his own efforts.