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Item Name: Print
Title: Relic of the 20th Century (Lunch Kit)
Maker: John K. Esler
Year: 1965
Country: Canadian
Materials: relief print, edition number 8/10
Measurements: in frame: 72 cm x 91 cm; work: 38 cm x 57 cm
ID Number: ART 063
Legal Status: ART RENTAL

Extended Label Info: This artwork by John Esler is a relief print created using a flattened metal lunchbox as a printing plate. It is part of a series entitled “Relics of the 20th Century” that he made with a variety of compressed objects, including a television set. The series exemplifies Esler’s sense of creative play in his art practice, an experimental methodology that also led Esler and his colleague Winston Leathers to invent “collagraphy”, a process in which printing plates are built up into textured reliefs using found objects and materials. In this series of “Relics” Esler uses humour to draw our attention to the consumerism of the Twentieth Century, a “throw-away” culture which embraced the planned obsolescence in manufactured goods. Art made with discarded or mundane objects can also spark personal memories that we may have with similar objects. In this way, Esler’s work shares similar themes and concerns as the Pop Art movement of the 60’s and 70’s, which also had a playful focus on everyday objects and consumer culture. John Kenneth Esler (1933- ) was born in Pilot Mound, Manitoba. He attended the University of Manitoba, earning degrees from the School of Art (1960) and in Education (BEd 1962). Esler then travelled in Europe, returning to Canada in 1964 to teach at the Alberta College of Art and Design (now Alberta University of the Arts) in Calgary. In 1968 he joined the Visual Arts Faculty at the University of Calgary where he taught intaglio printmaking until his retirement in the 1980s. Esler is remembered for encouraging his students to experiment, and for raising the profile of printmaking as an art form in Canada. He played a major role in the expansion of both printmaking departments at ACAD (now AUArts), and the University of Calgary, and with Ken Webb, helped establish Trojan Press, a teaching cooperative and studio. Esler's artwork has exhibited widely internationally and is held in public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and Vancouver Art Gallery. His awards include the C.W. Jefferys' Award from the Canadian Society of Graphic Arts and the G.A. Reid Memorial Award from the Canadian Painter-Etchers and Engravers.