Prints & Drawings
The prints and drawings department is the keeper of the Museum’s encyclopedic collection of works of art on paper from the Middle Ages through the 21st century, including prints, drawings, watercolors, pastels, paintings on paper, artist books, and printmaking matrices. This department also includes contemporary art, collected by the Museum across many collecting areas. ► Browse all of the Museum's contemporary artworks.
The department’s early works are chiefly European. Starting with the second half of the 19th century, the collection becomes more balanced between European and American works on paper. The strong collection of Old Master prints includes 100 early German woodcuts and engravings, 50 of which are by Albrecht Dürer; and prints by Jacques Bellange and Rembrandt. Rare impressions include works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Canaletto, and Camille Pissarro; the deluxe edition of Max Klinger’s portfolio A Love; and an early impression of Edvard Munch’s 1895 Self-Portrait. The substantial American print collection comprises 1,500 wood engravings by Winslow Homer, Thomas Nast, and Frederic Remington. The core of the contemporary print collection is a large group of works made by American and European artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Enzo Cucchi, Eric Fischl, David Rabinowitch, and James Turrell.
Master drawings from the 16th century to the present include exceptional examples by Edgar Degas, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Paul Klee, Adolphe Menzel, Pablo Picasso, and Odilon Redon. In the mid-1990s, the Museum began acquiring significant drawings by Abstract Expressionist painters, including William Baziotes, James Brooks, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, and Richard Pousette-Dart. Another focus is drawings by 20th-century sculptors, among them Aristide Maillol and David Smith. The Museum has also acquired major works on paper by Jasper Johns.
The Mavis P. and Mary Wilson Kelsey Collection
The Kelseys have donated more than 1,300 American prints and research materials to the MFAH, including nearly complete sets of Winslow Homer’s and Thomas Nast’s graphic oeuvres. These gifts of 400 works by Homer and 600 wood engravings by Nast span the artists’ careers and constitute the largest and most thorough collections of their work in any library or museum. In addition, the Kelseys have donated more than 300 wood engravings by Frederic Remington.
The Virginia and Ira Jackson Collection
Co-founders of the prints and drawings department, Virginia and Ira Jackson donated 110 noteworthy prints to the Museum. Inspired by an art-history course on French printmaking, Virginia began collecting prints when she returned to graduate school as an adult, and her husband soon became an equally passionate collaborator. Together, they created an internationally renowned collection of more than 1,000 objects focusing on color lithographs created in Paris from 1890 to 1910, with a particular emphasis on the work of Pierre Bonnard and the Nabi artists. In addition to masterworks, the Jackson also collected ephemera to present a fully rounded view of avant-garde art in France at the turn of the 20th century.
The Peter Blum Edition Archive (1980–1994)
In 1996, the MFAH acquired all of the individual prints, portfolios, and books that the Peter Blum Edition published from its inception in 1980 through 1994. Founded by Peter Blum, an American-born art critic, dealer, and filmmaker, the Peter Blum Edition focuses exclusively on publishing prints by contemporary American and European artists. Blum himself and Blumarts Inc., the parent company of the Peter Blum Edition, also donated all of the related preparatory material (more than 1,000 objects), providing a complete record of many of the print projects.
- The Age of Kusama: Pop Art and Minimalism June 28–October 2, 2016
- Overhead and Under Foot: Contemporary Topographies on Paper October 11, 2016–January 29, 2017
For information about past MFAH exhibitions, search the exhibitions archive database.
- Singular Multiples: The Peter Blum Edition Archive, 1980–1994
Art + Paper
MFAH members interested in prints and drawings are invited to join Art + Paper. Four to five times a year, September through June, Art + Paper members are invited to exhibition previews and openings, lectures by internationally renowned art historians and collectors, behind-the-scenes tours, workshops, and visits to artists’ studios and private collections. At the final meeting, Art + Paper members use their dues to acquire artworks for the Museum.
Join Art + Paper
The Annual Virginia and Ira Jackson Lecture
Virginia and Ira Jackson created an endowment in 1998 to fund an annual lecture at the Museum on the collecting and connoisseurship of prints and drawings. Free and open to the public, the Virginia and Ira Jackson Lecture is the only program of its type in the United States.
The Works on Paper Study Center
The Works on Paper Study Center is available to students, scholars, artists, and other individuals who wish to view works from the Museum’s collections of photography and prints and drawings. The study center is open by appointment to groups of up to 20.
The MFAH Collections
To explore all of the Museum’s works of art, search the collection.