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Prints POP in “It’s New / It’s Now”

Posted on by Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The 1960s

The 1960s was a decade for dreamers. A time of revolution, we remember the 1960s belonging to the youth – creating a storm of social upheaval, optimism, peace demonstrations, long hair, and free love. There was a belief that anything was possible.

The art produced during the decade reflects this sense of optimism and the desire to move into the modern age. Leaping into the unknown, artists worldwide examined the sublime and the abstract, often influenced by the exploration of space. Pop art artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein challenged mass-media and mass-culture. The 1960s also saw the rise of major print studios such as Gemini G.E.L. and Universal Limited Art Editions in the US and Kelpra Studio in the UK. Printmaking, the inexpensive “democratic artform,” boomed.

Here’s a print featured in “It’s New / It’s Now: Recent Gifts of Contemporary Prints and Drawings” by Lee Bontecou, published by Universal Limited Art Editions in 1964. In Fifth Stone, Bontecou explores cosmic phenomena, inspired in part by technology and space exploration.

Check back next week when we explore the new realism, disco, anti-war protests, and hot pants of the 1970s.


Lee Bontecou (American, born 1931), Fifth Stone, 1964, color lithograph. Published by Universal Limited Art Editions, West Islip, New York; edition of 27, Anonymous gift, P.70.66. © Lee Bontecou

More about the artist

In Lee Bontecou’s imaginative universe, visual exuberance and a tension between natural and man-made forms are fundamental as she strives to encompass “as much of life as possible—no barriers, no boundaries—all freedom in every sense.” Though best known for her elaborate sculptural constructions, Bontecou is also an accomplished printmaker and draftsman. Indeed, she considers graphic art essential to her artistic practice.

Bontecou made her first prints in 1962 at the invitation of Tatyana Grossman, founder of the pioneering print workshop Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE). In the ensuing years, Bontecou has produced 20 editioned prints at ULAE, including Fifth Stone, one of a series of lithographs featuring a prominent void or hole encircled by luminous bands of shimmering abstract forms. Suggestive of some mysterious cosmic phenomenon, the image possesses an enigmatic, unearthly quality that is at once mesmerizing, poignant, and unsettling. Like much of her graphic work, it is inspired in part by her experiences of nature and her fascination with the science and technology of space exploration.

Visit “It’s New / It’s Now: Recent Gifts of Contemporary Prints and Drawings” to see Fifth Stone and 120 other contemporary prints and drawings in person. Reserve your tickets today!

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