Polly Apfelbaum (b. 1955, Abington, PA) employs bright colors and abstract motifs in her prints, using methods that are simultaneously ordered and spontaneous. The performative aspect of her well-known large-scale installations carries over to her printmaking process. Chromatic Scale explores her distinctive approach to prints and how it relates to her work in painting, sculpture, and installation.
To make her woodblock prints, Apfelbaum improvises compositions from multiple blocks that are carved, inked, and placed individually. She works with up to hundreds of blocks at a time, methodically assigning colors to each block and intuitively arranging them in precise compositions. In her most recent prints, she has experimented with more fluid coloring and shapes, using a “rainbow roll” technique, in which multiple colors are partially mixed to achieve a continuous gradient effect.
Chromatic Scale continues NMWA’s exploration of innovations in printmaking, a medium in which women have worked since the sixteenth century. Including selections from the museum’s collection as well as complementary loans, this exhibition provides a focused study of Apfelbaum’s print work, which probes color, form, and abstraction.
Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, Polly Apfelbaum explores the work that Apfelbaum calls "fallen paintings," hybrid works of rare beauty that exist in a contentious, ambivalent space between painting, sculpture and installation. These works transform the colors of mass culture into wild oscillating spectra bordering on the organic. This volume accompanies the first large museum survey of her work, and features new and recent installations as well as a range of work from the past 15 years.