June 2, 2017 - July 8, 2017
Opening reception: Friday, June 2, 6 – 8pm
It is with great early-summer pleasure that Corbett vs. Dempsey celebrates the 50th anniversary of the political print portfolio Peace is Patriotic with an exhibition of vintage work by its creator, William Weege. This is the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery and also his first presentation in Chicago after a long hiatus.
William Weege (b. 1935) is a legendary figure in American printmaking. He taught at University of Wisconsin, Madison, from 1971 to 1998, during which time he founded the Jones Road Print Shop and Stable of Barneveld, Wisconsin, where he collaborated with many important artists, most extensively Alan Shields and Sam Gilliam (the latter of whom he continues to work with today); in 1987, Weege went on to found Tandem Press. Weege was responsible for bringing photographic methods into printmaking at UW, and at the time starting in the mid-’60s he was very active making collage-based prints, most of them of a bold and provocative political nature, often using highly experimental means. The best known of these was a 25-piece portfolio titled Peace is Patriotic , from 1967, which utilized a range of different papers and combinations of serigraphy and offset printing. At the time, eight images from the portfolio were licensed by a poster company, which ultimately disseminated them as posters to all corners of the American anti-war, underground, and counterculture; any good hippy household had one of them on its wall. Comprised of Dada-like collages, incorporating text and images from popular culture, some of it graphically sexual or violent or medical, the portfolio included one print titled “Impeach Johnson,” which Weege repurposed three years later, its text altered to read “Impeach Nixon,” when he participated in the Smithsonian’s “Experimental Printmaking Workshop” at the notorious 1970 Venice Biennale. Weege stood outside the American pavilion printing and handing out the piece. In the late ’60s, Weege’s work was shown frequently in Chicago, including solo shows at Richard Gray Gallery, where he had a solo exhibition during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and a presentation of his enormous 16-panel work “Long Live Life” in the same year at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Weege’s political and social commentary printworks are bodacious and aggressive, deploying fluorescent colors and complex layers of photographic image – sometimes borrowed, sometimes shot – and involving unconventional techniques like flocking, glittering, and sewing. In this, the first substantial roundup of works from 1967-1971, CvsD will show the Peace is Patriotic portfolio, along with two large multi-panel works, and a selection of other ambitious prints from the period. In conjunction with the show, CvsD has produced a 124-page book exhaustively reproducing Weege’s social and political printworks up to 1978, as well as related collages and an illustrated conversation with the artist about the work.