Exhibition Archives



May 29 | September 29

Beth Van Hoesen, who lived and worked for most of her life in San Francisco, was born in Boise, Idaho, in 1926. After graduating with a BA from Stanford in 1948, she went on to study in Paris and Mexico City. She dedicated herself exclusively to printmaking in 1956 and excelled at the intaglio processes of etching, drypoint, and aquatint. In 1959, Van Hoesen and her husband, artist Mark Adams, purchased a 1910 firehouse in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood and made it their home and studio. Along with fellow artists, including Wayne Thiebaud, Van Hoesen and Adams hired models for weekly drawing sessions in the firehouse, making it a nexus for the Bay Area’s art community.

Van Hoesen’s prints are first and foremost examples of great technical achievement. Renowned for her perfectionism, Van Hoesen often created many working proofs with detailed notes for changes she wanted made, before finally getting an image that met her incredibly high standards of refinement and finish. Typical of her method is Sally, a complicated combination of etching, drypoint, aquatint, and roulette; the image went through at least twelve revisions, what the artist called “stages,” before getting what she wanted. Van Hoesen combined this technical virtuosity with her keen eye for texture, color, and line to create her alluring prints.

In 2011, the Trustees of the E. Mark Adams and Beth Van Hoesen Adams Trust approached the McNay about a donation of the artist’s works to the museum. The gift was particularly welcome since it included numerous preparatory drawings and working proofs that are so essential to teaching our public about the sometimes difficult printmaking processes. This is the first time these generous gifts have been exhibited publicly.

This exhibition was organized by the McNay Art Museum.

The Elizabeth Huth Coates Exhibition Endowment and the Arthur and Jane Stieren Fund for Exhibitions are generously funding this exhibition.

Gallery Talk: Printing Perfection: The Art of Beth Van Hoesen
Sunday, July 21, 2:00 pm, Butt Paperworks Gallery

Lyle Williams, Curator, Prints and Drawings



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