What makes a 500-year-old printing process new? Master printer and publisher Jacob Samuel has brought etchings—prints created by transferring ink from a metal plate to paper—into the 21st century through collaborations with more than 60 contemporary artists. Some of the artists had never made prints; others had hated the process. But with Samuel’s guidance, they all adapted this historic technique to their artistic visions. New Ground: Jacob Samuel and Contemporary Etching gathers the resulting books and print portfolios to show the flexibility of etching and its reinvention for a contemporary world.

Samuel’s career began in the printshop of Abstract Expressionist painter Sam Francis. It was there that he determined the type of etching projects he wanted to publish: small scale, serial, and generally printed in a single tone. Soon, Samuel began to work on prints with a group of diverse and remarkably influential artists—painters like Christopher Wool and Jonas Wood, sculptors like Jannis Kounellis and Cristina Iglesias, musicians like Meredith Monk, and performance artists like Marina Abramović. Encompassing abstraction, figuration, and a diverse range of visual styles and approaches, the works in New Ground reflect Samuel’s success in making the tradition of old master printmaking relevant and inspiring today.

Organized by Esther Adler, Curator, and Margarita Lizcano Hernandez, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints.