Aquatint, Contemporary, Early 20th Century, Etching, Past/Present, Prints

Past/Present: Oil Can

Today we have a new P/P post, featuring two prints of oil cans by 20th century artist Hank Virgona and contemporary printmaker Jake Muirhead.

Hank Virgona was born in Brooklyn in 1929. After leaving the Army 23 years later, Hank took up an interest in art. Mostly self taught, Virgona’s studies consisted of pouring over art books, attending museums, and constant drawing from life- taking subject matter from scenes on the subway, street corners, and parks. Extrapolating from these experiences, Virgona slowly developed his own unique method.

Virgona’s early work consisted of illustrations for prominent magazines; Fortune, Harper’s, Argosy, and the New York Times “Op Ed” page. His commissions received numerous awards, including the Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators. In the late 1960’s, Hank’s focus drifted away from commercial work, and steadied upon his own personal work and ideas. He is very well known for his still lifes, in which the object becomes a metaphor for his feelings. This holds true for his figurative work as well, and can be seen in his Oil Can II– a worn-in, aged object with dents, yet still functional, which offers a quiet reflection on the impact of time.

Jake Muirhead, a talented and local printmaker, is no stranger to The Old Print Gallery or OPG blog. His rendition of the oil can comes from his most recent show here at the gallery- New Prints by Jake Muirhead.  Of his still lifes he writes, “These prints are about the interplay between observation and imagination. While the imagery does resolve itself into recognizable subjects, there are also passages that wander freely into space. When working on a plate, I want the marks to move in and out of the world of figurative description. If a line can be seen as both descriptive and a pure mark- suggestive of any number of things but untethered to anything specific- it breathes and has life”.

The print by Virgona can be purchased in our New York gallery, The Old Print Shop, or on their online website. Muirhead’s print can be purchased from our website or in our Georgetown gallery.

Image on Left: Oil Can II by Hank Virgona. Etching, 1973. Artist’s proof.

Image on Right: Oil Can by Jake Muirhead. Etching and aquatint on Arches Cover paper, 2010. Artist’s proof.









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