Hamilton Press was established in Venice, California in 1990 by master printer Ed Hamilton and artist and printmaker Ed Ruscha. At the time, the two “Eds” had worked together on about 40 prints and shared an appreciation for traditional hand-pulled lithography that they sought to foster among other artists. Since the press opened its doors 27 years ago in a small space on Washington Boulevard (now Abbot Kinney Boulevard), it has offered a relaxed and unhurried workshop environment for the creation of nearly 400 lithographs by more than 85 artists.
The Hamilton Press Archive represents a fascinating cross-section of the Venice and greater L.A. art scenes over the years. A survey of its production begins with works by artists associated with the city’s birth as an art capital (Ed Ruscha, Joe Goode, Ed Moses, Llyn Foulkes, Dennis Hopper, John McCracken, and Billy Al Bengston, for example.) Hamilton Press has also published prints by artists outside the mainstream like Gronk and Kenny Scharf, as well as political and countercultural works by Robbie Conal and Raymond Pettibon. More recently, Hamilton and Ruscha have invited a new generation of artists (like Jonas Wood, Mark Licari, Gajin Fujita, and Liza Lou) to experience the wonders of lithography. Hamilton Press has worked largely with local artists, thereby helping to uphold Los Angeles’s reputation as a center for lithography, and contributing to the city’s vital and innovative printmaking community.
Ed Hamilton trained at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Hollywood in the late 1960s and is widely respected as a master lithographer, most notably by Ruscha, who describes him as "a magician with the medium." They have produced more than a hundred prints together, nearly all of which are already in LACMA's permanent collection thanks to gifts from Jane and Marc Nathanson, who have proven their commitment to the museum's representation of the artist's entire printed oeuvre. Building on these holdings, this acquisition will include all Hamilton Press-published lithographs by artists other than Ruscha and allow the museum to represent the Hamilton Press archive in its entirety.
As with Edition Jacob Samuel(in 2010) and Lapis Press (in 2015), the Hamilton Press Archive will be co-acquired with the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum. This partnership has proven imperative to preserving the legacy of Los Angeles printmaking in and for Los Angeles.
During our 31st annual Collectors Committee Weekend (April 21–22), members of LACMA's Collectors Committee generously helped the museum acquire nine works of art spanning a breadth of eras and cultures. Check back tomorrow to learn about another acquisition.