The Cutting Edge: Avant-garde printmaking in Europe 1900 - 1950

12 October 2001 - 3 February 2002


Erich Heckel, Girl’s Head 1913. Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

The Cutting Edge was a broad survey of prints from some of the boldest and most experimental artists and printmakers of the first half of last century. In an explosion of colour, technical skill and innovation, the works exhibited challenged conventional attitudes to the status of the print and its presumed subservience as a mode of reproduction.

Prints by masters of the medium such as Stanley William Hayter, Claude Flight, Erich Heckel, Gertrude Hermes and Clare Leighton, joined ranks with the images by artists better known for their work in other media such as Piet Mondrian, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger, Henry Moore, Giacomo Balla and Sonia Delaunay.

Works in The Cutting Edge illustrated technical and conceptual revolutions within printmaking and the role played by printmaking within the avant-garde project of experimentation. Also considered were the differing modes of print publication; from book illustration to limited edition portfolios. The role of prints within artistic movements, such as Surrealism and Expressionism and conversely the influence of these movements on printmaking are also investigated.

This exhibition was organised by participants in Art History, Victoria University of Wellington with the Adam Art Gallery and the assistance of Victoria University and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.


To accompany this post-graduate exhibition project, a catalogue was published by the Adam Art Gallery including essays by all of students involved, and is available here