Born 1921 in Oakland, California
"He is a super guy, and I know the students will like him and his work very much," wrote Pozzatti of Colescott, who taught all of the intaglio media, and especially color etching, at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. At the time of his residency, March 21-25, 1977, Colescott was working on an NEA supported project, "The History of Printmaking" (1975-1979). As the artist explained in his grant application, this portfolio of eleven color etchings and color lithographs affectionately satirized the gods of printmaking in a manner that was "humorous, grim, ribald, educational, violent, respectful, sexy," and sometimes "disrespectful." An exhibition in the UNO Art Gallery (March 2 to April 8, 1977) provided the University and Omaha communities an opportunity to see prints from this series. "Rarely do satire and lush technique go hand in hand but Colescott's works are the exception," observed Bidez Embry Moore of the Omaha World Herald. This duality is evident in the UNO impression, which is a variation of the impression "The Last Printmaker" included in the portfolio. While at first glance his work appears zany and crude, Colescott's handling of both content and his medium is very sophisticated and serious. His years of graduate study at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1960s were punctuated with demonstrations for free speech, civil rights and the women's movements as well as anti-war protests. Recurring themes of the Establishment's abuse of power, the violence prevalent both in American media and in daily life, and the often time sexualized content of the entertainment industry are readily apparent in his prints including "The Last Printmaker". Here we see the contemporary artist pantless and exposed. In a post apocalyptic world, he resorts to the most elementary form of art making used by his ancestors in the caves of France's Dordogne Valley, 30,000 years ago. "In this print you glimpse a mixture of pessimism and optimism; mankind desperate, but reacting with energy and courage, and the artist-printmaker still in there, recording our experience," Colescott explained. Students Beth Davis and Greg Mickells assisted Colescott and his wife, printmaker Frances Myers, with the edition.
The History of Printmaking: The Last Printmaker
1977; color intaglio on Arches; sheet: 22 x 30 (55.88 x 76.2); edition of 30