In Plain Sight: The Library Print Collection at the Flinn Gallery
February 6 – April 22, 2020
The Flinn Gallery is pleased to present the second part of our In Plain Sight exhibition, The Library Print Collection. Acquired through gifts and purchase, these works on paper have all previously been seen on the walls of the library. Not merely placed there for decoration, the works enhance the library’s learning spaces and encourage creative thinking. In this exhibition, we celebrate the combined commitment both the Greenwich Library and the Flinn Gallery have made to lifelong learning that goes beyond books and includes visual arts.
The Library’s Print Collection originated at mid-century, through the efforts of the “Print Committee of the Friends,” subcommittee of the Friends of the Greenwich Library. The committee acquired prints, intended for the Lending Art Program, from galleries including Associated American Artists which introduced fine art, in the form of prints, to a middle-class audience. Coinciding with post-war suburban growth, and new developments in print technology and experimentation, the committee was able to build a significant collection for the Greenwich community to enjoy. Ranging in date from 1950-1980, and including a variety of print methods, these artworks were borrowed for local offices and homes for many years. Over time, as individual prints were deemed too valuable or fragile to circulate, they were hung on the library’s walls instead.
Now presented together in the Flinn Gallery space, many library visitors will see familiar works, such as the abstract splatters of Sam Francis’ “Hurrah for the Red White and Blue” from downstairs in the café and Claes Oldenburg’s “City as Alphabet” hanging for many years on a column in the music listening area—perhaps too high up to enjoy the details. Only those people who used the study carrels on the upper level of the periodicals area would notice the “Freedom Riders” suite of portraits from 1965 by artist-activist Ben Shahn. Bringing these often overlooked works together from all corners of the library and presenting them on the walls of the Flinn frees them of their usual visual distractions and allows them to be seen anew. With a range of subjects and approaches, visitors will have a chance to focus on their artistry and read new scholarly research on the Library’s Print Collection. When the renovation of the library’s building is complete, the works will be placed back on the walls for all to enjoy.