Tag Archives: prints

Exhibition Review: Edvard Munch: Master Prints

The Edvard Munch exhibition at the National Gallery (through November 28) is a must see. Even if you are not a fan of Munch, and I must admit I find his work to be extremely uneven, the exhibition presents a fascinating selection of his graphic works and a powerful exploration of his complex working methods. Munch was nothing if not a highly ideosyncratic print maker. He regularly combined multiple techniques together: sometimes using planographic, intaglio and relief techniques on the same print. He also would add color to work using hand-coloring or stenciling and would use uncarved tonal blocks in which the grain of the woodbloock itself played both a coloristic and expressive role. In addition to more traditional a la poupee inking technqiues, he would also cut his blocks into pieces, jigsaw fashion, in order to allow them to be inked individually. Finally, he rarely, if ever, decided on a final state or version, often radically rethinking (or remaking) the works in the process. Many of these features can be found in the most powerful works in the show. Images like Towards the Forest II, Two Women by the Shore, Vampire II and The Kiss all represent triumphs of both artistic expression and artistic experimentation and the exhibition and accompnaying catalog do a great job in tracing both the aesthetic and technical aspects of Munch’s work.

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Forthcoming Exhibition

I’m really lookng forward to the Edvard Munch print exhibition opening at the NGA on July 31. Munch is a peculiar and fascinating printmaker and seeing a large number of impressions at the same time should be great.

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Upcoming Event

The Baltimore Museum of Art will host the Baltimore Fair for Contemporary Prints and New Editions on March 27 and 28. The fair will feature 14 major contemporary art dealers, galleries, and presses from around the U.S. This unique event offers the opportunity to peruse prints in an intimate setting, talk personally with dealers, and learn more about contemporary artists and printmaking techniques. Visitors will find limited-edition portfolios and single-image prints from both established and emerging artists, including students and alumni from Maryland Institute College of Art.

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Exhibition Review: Two Prints Shows at the MFA in Boston

During a recent trip to Boston I was lucky enough to catch two wonderful exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts: Cafe and Cabaret: Toulouse-Latrec’s Paris (through August 8, 2010) and Albrecht Durer: Virtuoso Printmaker (through July 3, 2010). The two artists are amnong my favorite printmakers and the works and impression on display in both exhibtions were uniformly wonderful. The Durer exhibition presented numerous quality impressions of Durer’s most famous works in all media, but the highights of the exhibtion for me were the opportunity to look at a number of Durer’s experiments in etching and the presence of two of his drypoints including the masterful St. Jerome. Seeing the more experimental etching and drypoints in the context of Durer’s masterly use of the engraving and woodcut media, gave one an appreciation for Durer’s artistic mind. In particular,I welcomed  the opportunity to see Durer struggle with etching in works such as the Angel with the Sudarium and, perhaps more successfully if less metaphorically, in the  Landscape with the Cannon.

The Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition was also interesting, combining a number of works by the title artist with those of his contemporaries. Having seen the impression held at the Baltimore Museum, it was a real treat to see no fewer than 3 impressions of the Loie Fuller lithograph. Other highlights by Lautrec included the Englishman at the Moulin Rouge and Aristide Bruant in his Cabaret, while works by his contemporaries completed an interesting exhibition which both captured the spirit of the Paris of the day and emphasized the unique nature of Toulouse-Lautrec’s vision and technique.

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Exhibition Review: William Stanley Hayter: From Surrealism to Abstraction (May 31-August 23, 2009)

hayterinfo_smWilliam Stanley Hayter is a printmaker’s printmaker and a key figure in the history of 20th-century printmaking even if few casual art fans know much about him. Hayter was born in England, but came to fame in Paris where he set up the workshop Atelier 17. Atalier 17 was dedicated to hands-on artistic experimentation in engraving and etching and he introduced many contemporary artists to printmaking including Max Ernst and Joan Miro. During World War II, Hayter moved to New York; there he taught at the New School for Social Research and reestablished Atelier 17. In New York he again introduced printmaking to the artists active there, most notably Jackson Pollock. He then returned to Paris where he perfected the technique of viscosity printing, which allowed him to create multicolored, op-art-like prints using only one etched plate rather than multiple plates in register.

The exhibition at the National Gallery,which was drawn from the Gallery’s holdings and the collection of Ruth Cole Kainen (widow of artist Jacob Kainen), provided a thorough and engaging overview of the artist’s work. In his earlier surrealist works, one was struck by the control which he demonstrated over the burin in his engravings as well as the power of the images themselves. Additionally, Hayter’s pre-war works were makred by a high level of artistic experimentation and he often used soft-ground etching to create textured effects by embedding various objects into the ground. The post-war works are perhaps even more impressive not only for their coloristic expression, but also for the technical sopphistication. Other highlights of the exhibition included examples of prints by artists taught or influenced by Hayter as well as on of his matrices, which he sometimes would exhibit as reliefs.

On the whole this was a thrilling, beautiful and thought-provoking exhibtion. My criticism, however, regards the curators’ decision to intentionally omit any discussion of techinique. Hayter’s works are so technically accomplished that they seem to demand such a discussion. Moreover, my suspicion is that  the casual visitor would like to know (and as importantly would learn from) a basic dicussion of techniques such as soft-ground etching, engraving and viscosity printing. Such an understanding would not detract from the visitor’s appreciation of the prints, but would likely increase this appreciation both of Hayter’s work and prints more generally.

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William Blake at the Morgan

Nice review in the  Times of the Blake exhibition at the Morgan Library  in NYC, which includes his very interesting prints. Never miss a chance to see Blake and his oddities of art and technique.

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Forthcoming Exhibition

Matisse as Printmaker opens at the BMA (Baltimore) on October 25th.

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