by Jeannine A. O’Grody, PhD, Chief Curator and Deputy Director
Catherine and William Cabaniss have generously donated two significant prints by outstanding artists in honor of Ron Platt’s seven-year tenure as the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. One print is Tobacco Blues, 2000, by Radcliffe Bailey, born in 1968. Bailey is represented in the BMA collection, with works in different media. As always, Bailey’s works are multivalent, and he incorporated much in this piece. The central image is a photograph taken by his grandfather of a tobacco field where he had worked in Virginia, which Bailey visited during the summers of his youth. The use of color and text within the piece is symbolic, as blue ink around the photograph references blues music, and the text is taken from African American poetry. This work was printed during Bailey’s time with Paulson Bott Press studio in Berkeley, CA.
The second print, Last Night. New Day, 2008, by Chris Ofili, was made during his work with Crown Point Press in San Francisco, CA. Ofili was born in England in 1968, lives in Trinidad, and, like Bailey, works in a variety of media. His influences are many, including love, gender, religion, music, and race, which often lead to mysterious images. The painterly and rhythmic elements found here can be difficult to achieve in an intaglio print.
This is the first work by Ofili to enter the BMA collection. Both artists spent time with leading printmaking studios that invite artists to produce hand-printed pieces in limited editions. These two prints are examples of complex, large-scale printmaking techniques, including aquatint, color spitbite, sugarlift, softground, hardground, drypoint, photogravure, and chine collé. Not only are the works exquisite and fit perfectly into the Museum’s collection, they also provide an opportunity to learn how contemporary fine art prints can embody the elaborate, assemblage approach these two artists bring to their work.
Many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. William J. Cabaniss, Jr. for their generosity, and for making it possible to deepen our understanding of the work of Radcliffe Bailey and expand our collection to include a print by Chris Ofili.
Chris Ofili, Last Night. New Day, 2008, b. 1968, color spit bite and sugar lift aquatints with hardground etching and drypoint. Promised gift of Catherine and Bill Cabaniss in honor of Ron Platt, 251.2013[/caption]