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

  • O.K. Harris
    Richard Haas, American, born 1936
    O.K. Harris, 1971
  • Reclining Figure
    David Hockney, British, born 1937 | Printed and published by Petersburg Press
    Reclining Figure, 1975
  • Caviar
    Jack Beal, American, 1931–2013 | Printed by Jennifer Melby, American, active since 1980 | Published by Brooke Alexander Editions
    Caviar, 1978
  • Untitled
    Don Eddy, American, born 1944
    Untitled, 1964–2006
  • Wildwood, New Jersey
    Gregory Conniff, American, born 1944
    Wildwood, New Jersey, 1979, printed 1980
  • Tractor, Sangerfield, New York
    Altoon Sultan, American, born 1948
    Tractor, Sangerfield, New York, 1986
  • Pilgrim Repair
    William T. Wiley, American, born 1937 | Printed by Timothy Berry at Teaberry Press | Published by Teaberry Press
    Pilgrim Repair, 1989
  • We All Want to Believe
    Squeak Carnwath, American, born 1947 | Printed at Teaberry Press
    We All Want to Believe, 1989
  • Space
    Pat Steir, American, born 1938
    Space, 1976
    x1993-278 d
  • Being
    Pat Steir, American, born 1938
    Being, 1976
    x1993-278 f
  • Untitled #30
    Jane Hammond, American, born 1950 | Published by Castelli Graphics
    Untitled #30, 1988
  • Untitled
    Marwan El Dewey, Egyptian, active late 20th century
    Untitled, 1979