Date of Award

May 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Katharine Wells

Committee Members

Richard Leson


Colescott, Environment, Military, Printmaking, Protest, Warrington


In this paper I examine the work of prominent Wisconsin printmaker Warrington Colescott, based on the social and political context he was working in during the second half of the twentieth century. Colescott is known for his satirical intaglio prints that address a wide range of topics including American history, contemporary politics, and the history of art. In this paper I focus specifically on three topics that he addressed in his prints: protest, war and the military, and the environment. My study relies heavily on archival interviews with the artist, as well as research undertaken for exhibitions of Colescott’s work, primarily at the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Colescott taught for many years. Through my study I demonstrate how the artist uses satire to communicate with and activate his audience. His use of humor does not encourage his audience to simply laugh away the serious issues in the world around them, but works to engage them in the process of solving those problems. The entertaining comedy that is found in his prints is meant to draw the viewer in, and help them wrap their heads around the daunting problems of contemporary life.