Carol Summers in San Miguel

By Zelene Fernández

Internationally recognized, the woodblock prints of Carol Summers are in the permanent collection of virtually every major museum in the world, including MoMA, the Met, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris, in prestigious Kunstmuseums throughout Europe, as well as in many others around the world.

Carol Summers
Sat, Aug 1, 5pm
Galería Gleason Ray
Fábrica La Aurora

Indeed, when he was 38 years old in 1964, Summers’ work was featured in a One Man Show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Carol Summers is considered by many art historians to be among only a handful of master printmakers alive today. Summers worked as an artist throughout the entire second half of the 20th century.

Summers has developed a process and style that is both innovative and readily recognizable. His art is known for its large-scale, saturated fields of bold color, semi-abstract treatment of landscapes from around the world, and a luminescent quality achieved through a woodcut printmaking process he invented.

In 1954, Summers received a grant from the Italian government to study for a year in Italy.  A Fulbright Grant as well as Fellowships from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation followed soon thereafter, as did faculty positions at colleges and universities primarily in New York and Pennsylvania. Around this time Carol Summers played a pivotal role in bringing the monumental woodcut into the world. This term was coined in the early 1960s when he and fellow woodblock artist Leonard Baskin created woodblock prints that were a whole lot bigger than those done in previous decades.

In university fine arts programs and textbooks throughout the world, Summers’ method is known and taught as the Carol Summers Technique.

The incredible precision of the color inking in Summers’ woodcuts has been referred to in multiple studio handbooks. Summers refers to his own printing technique as “rubbing.” In traditional woodcut printing, including the Japanese method, the ink is applied directly onto the block. However, by following his own method, Summers has avoided the mirror-reversed image of a conventional print and it has given him the control over the precise amount of ink that he wants on the paper.

Summers’ woodblock prints are also known for bold, flowing designs and vivid glowing colors. In 1990, in a new and long-awaited reference book, Color In American Printmaking, Carol Summers is named among the “best of the best.” Other clues to identifying this master printmaker’s unique style is that he mixes representational art with the shapes and forms of semi-abstract art, rarely departing from images of the land, sea and sky. He portrays the natural in world in a quintessential simplicity. He does this partly by mixing geometric shapes (squares, triangles, circles) with organic shapes.


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