In 1964, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut published the portfolio, Ten Works by Ten Painters. Some of the selected artists had well-established careers at the time, and others were just beginning to gain recognition. This project gave several young artists their first opportunity to publish prints in a large editions. Included in the group are some of the most important and prolific printmakers in contemporary art: Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Motherwell and Robert Indiana, all of whom are featured in our sale. Established artists such as Stuart Davis and Ad Reinhardt also contributed prints to the project.
Andy Warhol’s contribution to the museum’s portfolio was the notorious Birmingham Race Riot, a pervasive and powerful image following the May 12, 1963 riot in Alabama that perfectly captured the nation’s racial tensions at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. To create this screenprint, Warhol appropriated a photograph first published in Life magazine. Other than a few trial proofs and a print made for an earlier exhibition, Warhol had not published an edition of prints using the screenprinting technique until the museum offered the opportunity to work with the reputable printmakers Norman Ives and Sewell Sillman. This early, formative experience helped Warhol develop his signature style in what would eventually become his preferred methods of printmaking.