Ziemann Brings ‘Unparalleled Immediacy’ to Work in New Britain Show

Poppies, 1984-85 (Courtesy of the New Britain Museum of American Art)


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NEW BRITAIN — The exhibition “Richard Claude Ziemann: In Nature” at the New Britain Museum of American Art offers a celebration of a local art icon. Running until April 7, the show highlights decades of Ziemann’s commitment to capturing the essence of landscapes, from the delicate details of a leaf to the sweeping majesty of our Connecticut forests.

A master printmaker, Ziemann excels in etching, printmaking technique involving drawing on a metal plate — typically copper, zinc, or steel — and carving the design into the metal with acid. The plate, once inked and wiped clean, is pressed onto paper, transferring the ink from the incised lines to create an image. 

Many artists have used this technique, first drawing in nature and then retreating to their studios for finalizing their prints. Ziemann stands apart, boldly working on this laborious artform in the landscapes that inspire him. Ziemann has been known to work directly on massive 30” x 40” metal plates outdoors, a practice that lends an unparalleled immediacy to his work.

Berkshire Valley, 1966-67 (Courtesy of the New Britain Museum of American Art)

Through direct engagement with the landscape, Ziemann’s pieces offer both intimate and grand views of nature, recording a lifetime of observation and interaction with the environment. 

Born in Buffalo in 1932, Ziemann has enjoyed a distinguished career, including early success with a group exhibition at the MoMA in 1956. With over 70 years of artistry, reflecting a journey from the New York art scene to a tranquil life in Chester, Ziemann has shown an unwavering dedication to capturing the beauty of nature. His outdoor studio, a movable construction, allows him to bring giant etching panels directly to his subjects.

Wetland grasses 2, 1980 (Courtesy of the New Britain Museum of American Art)

In the works at the New Britain Museum of American Art, the accumulation of repetitive marks builds tone or texture. Ziemann noted that his  “mark making becomes a thing that derives from a textural moment in nature.” This approach mirrors his career—a gradual accumulation of repeated actions, accumulating skill and talent to truly celebrate the natural world. 

At 91, Ziemann is still going strong. When I called him for this article he said, “When you called, I was drawing, so I’m still at it.” His current exhibition is not merely a collection of beautiful prints but an inspiration to all on what it means to be a artist. 

This story has been updated to clarify that the 1956 exhibition at MoMA was a group show