Prints by female artists are on view at the Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield through June 24, 2007, in the special exhibition Women in Print: Extraordinary Examples from the 20th Century.
Selected from the museum's permanent collection of works on paper, the prints span 60 years of printmaking by European and American artists such as Isabel Bishop, Mabel Dwight, Anne Goldthwaite, Kathe Kollwitz, Blanche Lazzell and others. The show includes examples of etchings, lithographs, woodblock prints and woodcuts depicting city life, the Parisian art scene, social gatherings, portraits and landscapes. The study and practice of art in traditional public arenas remained off limits to most women until the mid-19th century, when art schools began admitting female students. By the late 1800s, women artists became involved in and influenced by the Impressionist movement and began painting and networking with their male counterparts. Printmaking was a more democratic field of endeavor than painting and women flourished in the medium. The American Impressionist artist Mary Cassatt, who made many contributions to printmaking, urged her colleagues to devote themselves to this medium as a way to bring affordable art to the public. The Japanese influence was also strong, and women artists began to experiment with Japanese woodblock techniques in addition to etching and lithography. By the late 20th century, women had made significant contributions to the art world by founding and co-founding art movements and creating new approaches and techniques in all mediums. The prints in this exhibition demonstrate the level of excellence that was achieved by women as they climbed the ladder of the art world in the 20th century.