The Printed Line at Torre Abbey Museum

Opening at Torre Abbey Museum on Saturday 6 April and running until Saturday 2 June, The Printed Line, a new exhibition from the Arts Council Collection, is touring the UK showcasing work by artists including David Hockney, Bridget Riley, Patrick Caulfield and Henri Matisse. 

The Printed Line exhibition showcases the work of nearly 60 artists who have used a variety of printmaking techniques to exploit the potential of the printed line, from the thick velvety line of drypoint and the heavy cross-hatching of etching to delicate wood engraving and boldly coloured screenprints. The use of colour will be explored in screenprints by Bridget Riley and Kenneth Martin, as well as Simon Patterson 's witty lithograph, which reworks the lines of the London tube map.

All the prints in this exhibition are from the Arts Council Collection, which is the largest loan collection of modern and contemporary British art and includes fine examples of work by all of this country’s most prominent artists.

Jill Constantine, Director of the Arts Council Collection said: "The Arts Council Collection has an outstanding collection of prints which encompasses work by a number of international artists.

“Sometimes seen as a 'lesser' art form, this exhibition shows how wrong that assumption is and what an important part of many artist's practice printmaking remains. It is one of our most accessible art forms and we hope this exhibition will encourage people to take up printmaking and perhaps join one of the many courses or studios up and down the country."

It also features a number of celebrated artists, spanning the 20th century to the present day, including: Walter Sickert 's masterly cross-hatched etching The Old Middlesex (c. 1910), Ben Nicholson 's rich drypoint Halse Town 1949 (1949), a bold etching by Eduardo Chillida and David Hockney 's pared-down linear etchings.

Included in this exhibition is Henri Matisse’ s Le Grand Bois, the largest and most important of four woodcuts which he made in 1906-07 and was one of the three Fauve woodcuts shown at Matisse's second solo exhibition in 1906. Le Grand Bois, based on a preparatory brush and ink study, illustrates Matisse's interest in an expressive counterpoint of ornamental patterns resulting from the use of a variety of brushstrokes.

While at the Royal College of Art, David Hockney discovered the poems of the Greek poet Cavafy (1863-1933). He admired them for their clear language and matter-of-fact way of talking about homosexuality. From this he created fourteen etchings which portrayed the visual interpretation of the mood and sensuality of the verse. The work included in this exhibition is based on a photograph of Hockney’s friends, the artists Mo McDermott and Dale Chisman. The striking bed cover was created using aquatint, an etching process that gives areas of softer tone to an image.

The Vollard Suite is one of Pablo Picasso’ s most important series of prints. It comprises 100 works produced between 1930 and 1937 at a critical time in Picasso’s career, and also when he was involved in a passionate affair with his muse and model Marie-Thérèse Walter, whose classical features are a recurrent presence in the series. Included in this exhibition is the drypoint Two Women Resting; the classical linearity and repose in this work alternate with the darker, more violent prints in the series.

Bridget Riley’ s Firebird, featured in this exhibition, is her first print to use colour and reflects the new developments in her painting at the time. Vertical twisting bars of red, blue and green are separated by equal areas of uncoloured space, generating a powerful optical array of imagined colours for the viewer.

While Rachel Whiteread is best known for her sculptural work, drawing has always remained a critical part of her practice. For London 2O12, she has composed a pattern of overlapping rings in the Olympic colours. The rings explore the emblem of the Olympic Games, and also represent marks left by drinking bottles or glasses, acting as memories of a social gathering, such as the athletes in the stadium during the opening ceremony or the spectators of the Games.

The full list of artists included in The Printed Line:

Frank Auerbach, Derek Boshier, Patrick Caulfield, Eduardo Chillida, Prunella Clough , Paul Coldwell, Keith Coventry, Lizzie Cox, Raoul Dufy, Andre Dunoyer De Segonzac, Hans Fischer, Barry Flanagan, Lucian Freud, Hamish Fulton, William Gear, Alberto Giacometti, Derrick Greaves, Anthony Gross, Gertrude Hermes, David Hockney, Blair Hughes-Stanton, Janice Kerbel, Oskar Kokoschka, Leon Kossoff, Fernand Léger, Kenneth Martin, André Masson, Henri Matisse, David Nash, Ben Nicholson, Eduardo Paolozzi, Victor Pasmore, Simon Patterson, Pablo Picasso, Eric Ravilious, Bridget Riley, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Walter Sickert, Birgit Skiold, Richard Smith, Pierre Soulages, Norman Stevens, William Tucker, Ian Tyson, Victor Vasarely, James Whistler and Rachel Whiteread.

The Arts Council Collection was founded in 1946 and is managed by the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre in London on behalf of Arts Council England. It is based at the Hayward Gallery and at Longside at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

It is the most widely circulated of all of Britain’s national collections and can be seen in museums and galleries across the UK and abroad. Unique among national collections, it lends to public buildings in the UK, including schools, universities, hospitals and charitable associations.

Entry price is included in the normal adult ticket price for Torre Abbey Museum.