September 15, 2019 02:00 PM EDT Treadway Gallery


Hale Woodruff Selections From the Atlanta Period

Hale Woodruff (1900-1980)
Selections from the Atlanta Period, c. 1931-1946
portfolio of eight linoleum cut prints, loose, and housed in the original portfolio
19 x 15 inches, sheet, full margins 
numbered 277/300
Printed by Robert Blackburn's Printmaking Workshop, New York in 1996, blind stamp lower left.  Published by artist's wife and estate, blind stamp lower right.

Includes: African Headdress, Old Church, Coming Home, Relics, By Parties Unknown, Giddap, Trusty on a Mule, and Sunday Promenade.

This set is found in numerous museum collections and is quickly becoming increasingly difficult to acquire.  

Although Hale Woodruff had won several prestigious awards early in his career, it wasn’t until the 1930’s that his individual style began to take shape.  His work shifted from provincial landscapes and figure studies to social realist scenes and stylized landscapes.  In 1935, he experienced a career breakthrough when two of his woodcuts appeared in a major exhibition entitled, An Art Commentary on Lynching at the Arthur U. Newton Galleries in New York City.  


In 1936, Woodruff received a grant that allowed him to assist Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.  His work with Rivera and support from the Federal Arts Project compelled him to undertake his famous Amistad murals for Talladega College, Alabama, which were installed in 1939.


Later in his career, Woodruff's work began to take on influence from the abstract expressionist movement and included more African imagery.  He completed large mural commissions for the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company in Los Angeles as well as for Atlanta University.  In the mid 1960’s, Woodruff formed the group, Spiral, with Romare Bearden, Charles Alston, and Norman Lewis in order to explore their common cultural experiences as black artists . His last major exhibition his lifetime was presented by the Studio Museum in Harlem, 1979 . Woodruff’s work may be found in the collections of Atlanta University, Spelman College, New York University, the Library of Congress, and the Harmon Foundation.  


This set is found in numerous New York collections, including the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Whitney Museum of American Art.


About Robert Blackburn and The Printmaking Workshop:  Robert Blackburn was mentored and shaped by Harlem Renaissance artists including Charles Alston, Augusta Savage, and James Lesesne Wells. As a teenager he participated in the Harlem Arts Workshop, the Uptown Art Laboratory, and the Harlem arts salon known as “306.” Lithography classes offered at the WPA-sponsored Harlem Community Art Center introduced him to the art of printmaking.


The center, initiated by Savage and artist and writer, Gwendolyn Bennett, became a model for Blackburn’s own workshop 

years later. Key to Blackburn’s artistic development were his lithography teacher, Riva Helfond, and his friend, the artist Ronald Joseph. 


Following his high school graduation in 1940, Blackburn attended the Art Students League in New York on scholarship until 1943. There he worked with painter and printmaker Will Barnet, who became a life-long friend. For four years, Blackburn freelanced as a graphic artist for institutions including the philanthropic Harmon Foundation, the China Institute of America, and Associated American Artists, while his vision of a career in printmaking developed. By late 1947, he had acquired his own lithographic press  In 1948, he opened his own studio in Chelsea, printing for artists and encouraging his friends to experiment in lithography. In 1950, when the innovative Parisian printmaking studio, Atelier 17 returned to Europe after a war-time hiatus in New York, Blackburn installed an intaglio press at his shop a few blocks away. Between 1951 and 1952, he worked with Barnet on a groundbreaking suite of color lithographs that were featured in the contemporary art journal ARTnews.



During the mid 1950s Robert Blackburn’s printmaking workshop was run by a loose cooperative of artist-friends while he spent a year and a half in Europe.  After his return, he was hired in 1957 as the first master printer at Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE).  At ULAE, he printed for an emerging generation of artists including Larry Rivers, Grace Hartigan, Helen Frankenthaler, and Robert Rauschenberg.  During this active period, Blackburn’s color graphics reached a creative and technical zenith. In 1963, he began to operate his own Manhattan workshop full time, providing an open graphics studio for artists of diverse social and economic backgrounds, ethnicities, styles, and levels of expertise. Under his direction, the Printmaking Workshop became one of the most vital collaborative art studios in the world.



Very good condition. No holes, tears, abrasions.  No stains, folds, or creases. Unframed.  

Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000


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