A Poetic Sensibility: Contemporary Prints from the Gift of James Kraft, Class of 1957

This group of cabinet-sized prints and photographs has been selected from the gift of contemporary prints assembled by James Kraft, Class of 1957. Beginning in the 1970s and continuing through 1992, Kraft amassed over six hundred works, including prints, photographs, illustrated books, portfolios, and various original works on paper. To this day, the Kraft collection is one of the largest gifts ever made to the Princeton University Art Museum, and it constitutes the backbone of the Museum’s contemporary print holdings. The collection features an extraordinary range of artists, particularly those better known for paintings and sculpture than for printmaking. The diversity of these artists reflects Kraft’s goal: forming a collection of prints that would faithfully represent contemporary American cultural activity, from small introspective impressions to large virtuosic showpieces. Kraft’s collection contains works by contemporary artists who employ virtually every printmaking technique utilized in Western art, from mezzotint to monotype, including offset lithography, screen printing, and other commercial processes, either as they have been traditionally practiced or as they are applied experimentally. He also saved correspondence, gallery announcements, and magazine articles, providing the Museum with a fascinating archive.

 A great collection can often provide valuable insights into the personality of the collector. Jim Kraft earned a doctorate in English literature before establishing a career as a highly respected director for development of many illustrious arts organizations and museums. As a program developer at the National Endowment for the Humanities he honed an understanding of the need to the support the institutions that nurture artistic talent. Yet it is Kraft’s predisposition to narrative or serial imagery combined with a lyrical use of materials that is most evident throughout these works, reminding us of his initial dedication to literature, and suggesting his poetic sensibilities as a collector.

Calvin Brown, Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings

  • Untitled
    Jasper Johns, American, born 1930 | Printed at Simca Print Artists, Inc. | Published by Brooke Alexander Editions
    Untitled, 1977
  • Five Aquatints with Drypoint
    Richard Diebenkorn, American, 1922–1993 | Printed by Lilah Toland, American, active 1978–1983 | Published by Crown Point Press
    Five Aquatints with Drypoint, 1978
  • Pranzo Italiano (Italian Lunch)
    Helen Frankenthaler, American, 1928–2011 | Printed by Eleonora Rossi , and Valter Rossi, Libyan, born 1937 | Published by 2 RC Editrice
    Pranzo Italiano (Italian Lunch), 1973
  • After Degas
    Howard Hodgkin, British, 1932–2017 | Printed by Jack Shirreff, Andy Smith, and Steve Dogll at 107 Workshop | Published by The Mezzanine Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    After Degas, 1990
  • Five Aquatints
    Robert Mangold, American, born 1937 | Printed by Patrick Foy at Crown Point Press | Published by Parasol Press, Ltd.
    Five Aquatints, 1975
    x1993-246 a-e
  • Six Inches Four Ways
    Sylvia Plimack Mangold, American, born 1938 | Printed at A. Colish Press, Inc.
    Six Inches Four Ways, 1976
  • Praise
    Agnes Martin, American, 1912–2004 | Printed at Triton Press
    Praise, 1976
  • A Square with Four Squares Cut Away
    Robert Mangold, American, born 1937 | Printed by Aaron Arnow at Parasol Press, Ltd.
    A Square with Four Squares Cut Away, 1976
  • Kyoto: Positive/Negative
    Howardena Doreen Pindell, American, born 1943 | Printed by Judith Solodkin and Patricia Branstead at Aeropress
    Kyoto: Positive/Negative, 1980
  • Four Pointed Star
    Sol LeWitt, American, 1928–2007
    Four Pointed Star, 1993
    x1993-245 b
  • Eight Pointed Star
    Sol LeWitt, American, 1928–2007
    Eight Pointed Star, 1993
    x1993-245 f