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Artworks by Grace Martin Taylor donated to WVU’s Art Museum

on Tue, 06/21/2011 - 08:00

“Provincetown” prints by Grace Martin Taylor are coming to the Art Museum at WVU, where they will help form a complete set of white-line woodblocks by the noted West Virginia artist who studied with American modernist, Blanche Lazzell.

Taylor’s daughter, Lucie Mellert of Charleston, W.Va., recently donated 27 of the prints to WVU, where her mother graduated in 1928 before embarking on her career in art.

“With the addition of these works, WVU now owns a complete set of all 31 white-line color woodblock prints that Grace Martin Taylor produced in her lifetime,” said Joyce Ice, director of the Art Museum at WVU.

“Like Blanche Lazzell, Grace Martin Taylor is appreciated as one of America’s innovative printmakers of the second quarter of the 20th century.

“The addition of these prints further strengthens the Art Museum at WVU, which already holds the largest public collection of art by Lazzell,” she said.

Grace Martin Taylor was born in Morgantown in 1903 and also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts with American Modernist Arthur Carles in the 1920s.

It was Lazzell, also a Morgantown area native and a distant cousin of Taylor’s, who introduced her to the printmaking technique that led to what is now commonly referred to as the “Provincetown” print.

Lazzell and other artists in the colony at Provincetown, Mass., had created the method of producing color prints using a technique adapted from Japanese woodblock printing.

After graduating from WVU, Taylor visited Lazzell in Provincetown and took lessons from her in the white-line method for making color wood block prints.

Both women came to spend many summers in Provincetown, where they produced what is now considered their best work.

Taylor, a prolific artist, worked with the Provincetown Print Group for 28 summers. She also dedicated her life to teaching art in West Virginia, where she is credited with perpetuating modern art and abstraction.

She received her M.A. in Art from WVU in 1949 and continued post-graduate study at a number of prestigious art schools.

She also studied with other modern artists, including Emil Bisttram in Taos, N.M., and Hans Hofmann in Provincetown.

Taylor was head of the art department and also president (1955-56) of the Mason College of Music and Fine Arts in Charleston, W.Va. In 1956 Mason College joined with Morris Harvey College, which is now the University of Charleston.

Since her death in 1995 her art has been exhibited throughout the United States, most notably at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Academy of Design, the Smithsonian Institution, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Art and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

In 2008 she was included in “The American Scene: Prints from Hopper to Pollock” at the British Museum in London, England.

WVU already has a large collection of Taylor’s works, through the generosity of her daughter, who is also a strong supporter of the WVU Libraries. The Culture Center in Charleston also has a large quantity of her works, as does the University of Charleston.

Mellert herself is a photographer whose work appears in “On the Town,” a regular column of the Sunday Gazette-Mail.

Mellert’s recent gift to the Art Museum at WVU includes prints that Taylor produced between 1929 and 1958 and was made through the WVU Foundation.

The WVU Foundation is a private, nonprofit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.