February 2 – February 25, 2018
In Lucerna, Noah Breuer presents recent prints and textiles from his ongoing project exploring the visual legacy of Carl Breuer and Sons (CB&S), his Jewish family’s former textile printing business in Bohemia. In 1942, the CB&S company was lost as a result of a forced sale to Nazi Party members, a few members of the Breuer family fled Europe, and those who remained were killed.
After accessing a cache of CB&S material housed at the Czech Textile Museum in Česká Skalice in 2016, Noah used the swatch books and printed textiles he found there as a nucleus of primary source material and embarked on a reclamation project. The prints and textiles in this show evince his formal interest in manipulating decorative motifs, his dedication to the craft of printmaking, and his sustained inquiry into the rhetorics of communication through print media.
In the works on view, Noah layers different media, patterns and colors to reveal and conceal visual information, referring to his process of discovery with the source material. He explores CB&S swatches and samples of quotidian products from the 1910s-30s through a range of tools and techniques, including UV-reactive fabric dyes, large CNC-carved woodblocks, screen-printing, sewing, and more. Sometimes hewing closely to the original designs, sometimes drifting dreamily from them, the works invite contemplation of the shifting meanings of objects over time.
The show’s title, Lucerna, is the Czech word for “Lantern” and it also refers to a branded line of table linens that the CB&S factory produced between 1910 and 1935. Engaging with the small handful of objects that survive from a business that was operated for over fifty years by multiple generations of family members, Noah confronts his limited access to his family’s history. The work of research can be likened to holding a lantern over a forgotten relic in a dark attic: a light with short range shows some details clearly, but it fades at the edges and can only allude to a complete form.
Noah Breuer is an American artist and printmaker. He holds a BFA in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design, and an MFA from Columbia University. He also earned a graduate research certificate in traditional woodblock printmaking and paper-making from Kyoto Seika University in Japan. His work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Victoria & Albert Museum as well as numerous private collections. Noah is currently a visiting professor of printmaking at the University of Oregon.