Tandem Press is pleased to present a new exhibit, Robert Cottingham  – An American Alphabet, at the Tandem Press Apex Gallery.

Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 AM-5 PM; Saturdays 10 AM-1 -PM


Reception: Wednesday, April 4, 2018, 5-7 PM

In 1996, Cottingham approached Tandem Press about creating a series of lithographs based on signs he observed throughout the United States. He began the series with letters F and K during a visit in March of 1997, and returned in October to add D and J to the portfolio. Completed in 2012, Cottingham created editions of lithographs for every letter in the alphabet. Each print in this seminal series is made with multiple colors, ranging from nineteen (An American Alphabet: T) to a staggering eighty-nine (An American Alphabet: Y).

For Cottingham, An American Alphabet is a cultural and historical document; something that captures a part of our human-made environment. “I’m always interested in the age of things,” he says, “but, in this case, I was motivated by the fact that they were disappearing.” He sees an aesthetic dimension in what he did with the letters in the series. “I think of them as formal arrangements. They’re almost an excuse to make an image and play with form, color, and line.”

Robert Cottingham (b. 1935) was born in Brooklyn, New York and received his BFA degree from the Pratt Institute. He later studied art at the Arts Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. Although he is known for his photorealistic depictions of signs, storefront marquees, railroad boxcars and letter forms, Cottingham does not consider himself a photorealist artist. His imagery, while derived from the photographs he takes, expands on the photographic image, it does not replicate it. Works by Robert Cottingham are in the collections of every important museum in America and Europe including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Boymans-von Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands; the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA; the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York; the Hamburg Museum, Germany; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Academy of Design, New York; the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; the Tate Gallery, London, England; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. A retrospective of Robert Cottingham’s print work was organized and exhibited by the National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC in 1998. In 2016, the Butler Institute of American Art held a major, career-spanning exhibition of Cottingham’s paintings. He currently resides in Connecticut.   

Upcoming dates

Download schedule


  • Starting Friday, March 2nd, 2018, repeats every week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday until Thursday, April 12, 2018 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm


Tandem Press Apex Gallery

1743 Commercial Ave.
Madison, 53704

Tandem Press is a professional printmaking studio that produces top-quality prints by nationally recognized artists. Affiliated with the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tandem Press is a self-supporting studio that fosters research,