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The Power of Prints: The Collection of Lois B. Torf

Entirely self-taught and full of enthusiasm, Lois Torf amassed, beginning in the early 1960s,  one of the largest and most important collections of prints in America. As a novice collector, Torf was drawn to prints for their affordability. Torf’s approach to collecting was one of collaboration, strategy and discipline. She became friendly with curators, dealers and scholars with whom she shared a dedication to printmaking as a medium of artistic expression. Torf appreciated the technical aspect of printmaking and, above all, believed in the power of printmaking as a graphic medium. Prints hung floor-to-ceiling in her Brutalist-style concrete house designed in 1971 by architects Mary Otis Stevens and Thomas F. McNulty, and many hundreds more were stored in flat files that Torf would visit frequently to look at and handle. One of the stylistic threads running through the collection was Torf’s love of strong black-and-white images which could be seen in her holdings of German Expressionist works, as well as in Cubist works. In addition to European prints, Torf collected many works made during the American printmaking renaissance in the 1960s and ‘70s, and contemporary works from Europe and America from the decades that followed. It gave Lois Torf great pleasure to show others her collection, and to discourse with fellow print-lovers about the medium. In addition to donating and loaning countless works to museums, Torf served on boards and committees of many Boston-area art institutions, and lead classes on print buying and collecting. She bought what she loved and lived with her collection. Her taste in contemporary graphic art was bold and sometimes daring, creating a legacy in the print world that will continue to be felt on an institutional level, as well as having influenced so many other collectors over the years. Torf’s close friend, esteemed Boston gallerist Barbara Krakow, wrote this about her friend:

“What makes a great collector:

A collector is one who is always sought after to learn from

A collector is one who shares with others their knowledge

A collector is one who museuams borrow from

A collector is one who is dedicated, passionate about what they collect

A collector is one who seaches, researches in depth, investigates, discovers and falls in love

A collector is one who stays true to her path

Such a collector was Lois Torf.”

Time & Location

Prints from the Collection of Lois B. Torf
Wednesday, December 1 at 11am

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