Printmaking ABC: In Memoriam David P. Becker

Museum of Art Museum of Art

Exhibition: Printmaking ABC: In Memoriam David P. Becker



Bernard and Barbro Osher Gallery
This selection of masterly prints from Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt to David Hockney and Sol LeWitt is drawn from the collection of 1,500 prints given and bequeathed by Bowdoin alumnus David Becker. Becker, a former trustee of the College, was an internationally recognized print scholar whose expertise encompassed drawings, illustrated books, and writing manuals. Throughout his life, he collected with the intent to build a comprehensive teaching resource for his alma mater. This exhibition will introduce visitors to the techniques, themes, and stylistic developments of western printmaking since the Renaissance.

Selected Works

Mel Chin. American, born 1951.The Language of Birds, 1996. Soft-ground etching, aquatint and lithograph. Anonymous Gift and Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund
Odilon Redon. French, 1840–1916. The Reader, 1892. Lithograph. Bequest of David P. Becker, Class of 1970
Albrecht Dürer. German, 1471–1528. St. Jerome in his Study, 1514. engraving. Bequest of David P. Becker, Class of 1970
Rodolphe Bresdin. French, 1822–1885. Branches, ca. 1880. etching. Bequest of David P. Becker, Class of 1970
Parmigianino. Italian, 1503–1540. The Entombment. etching. Gift of David P. Becker, Class of 1970, in honor of Katharine J. Watson


The exhibition celebrates the lifelong dedication of David P. Becker, class of 1970, to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Becker engaged with the Museum, and with the College, in many capacities ranging from Museum intern, curator, and adviser to trustee and benefactor. From his freshman year to his untimely death in 2010, Becker was enamored with the collections of prints, drawings, and illustrated books at Bowdoin. It became one of the passions of his adult life to research this resource and to add numerous strategic donations. His recent bequest of many hundreds of prints combined with the earlier gifts is surveyed here for the first time.

The collection was built with the understanding that prints are a primary resource for the history of art. Whether created by Albrecht Dürer from Nuremberg, Odilon Redon from Paris, or by a contemporary printmaker associated with the Vinalhaven Press, prints are an accurate expression of an artistic vision. For David Becker “the Bowdoin collection was my first professor, collection, and laboratory for learning about prints and drawings.” The exhibition is an invitation to follow his advice: “Just keep looking; look, look, look, look, and look some more.”

Reading Prints: David P. Becker’s Legacy
at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art
January 31 and February 1, 2013

This symposium is presented in conjunction with the exhibition. Speakers will introduce aspects of the printmaking tradition that exemplify the joys and rewards of close looking and in-depth study. Printmaking ABC comprises masterly prints from Albrecht Durer and Rembrandt to David Hockney and Mel Chin and is drawn from the collection of 1,500 works of art given and bequeathed to Bowdoin by David Becker, Class of 1970. David Becker, scholar, collector, and educator, is remembered at Bowdoin as a trustee, quiet philanthropist, and advocate for the Museum of Art.

Symposium, Session I
Thursday, January 31, 2013
3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center, Bowdoin College
Clifford Ackley, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Marjorie Cohn, formerly of Harvard Art Museums; Shelley Langdale ’85, Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Sue Reed, formerly of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Followed by an Open House at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art
5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Symposium, Session II
Friday, February 1, 2013
10:00 a.m. to noon
Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Katharine J. Watson, director emerita, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, and Aprile Gallant, Smith College Museum of Art, followed by a viewing of selected prints from David Becker’s bequest.