Friday, March 8, 2013

"Dürer to Dine" Explores History of Printmaking

UWM Art History Gallery Features Exquisite Prints

By Peggy Sue
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An intimate, intriguing show at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Art History Gallery presents over more than two-dozen prints that briefly illustrate how the medium developed over five centuries. “Dürer to Dine: 500 Years of Printmaking” opened March 7 and runs through the Southern Graphic Council International Print:MKE conference to close on March 28.

The quiet Mitchell Hall Gallery (Room 154) begins the exhibition by displaying Albrecht Dürer in two prints, which elevates printmaking to a fine art with Dürer's intricate woodcuts. His The Resurrection from the Engraved Passion in 1512 portrays a holy Chirst draped in white cloth on a Christian Easter morning.

Two prints by Rembrandt van Rijn became important because he combined printmaking methods, which were beginning to be tried, whether in etching, engraving and drypoint. His Self-Portrait in Velvet Cap with Plume demonstrated several techniques in (1638), while Rembrandt’s Seated Male Nude (1646) also demonstrates this master’s delicate technique for draftsmanship. 

In the years beginning at the turn of the 19th century, lithography became easier and less expensive to print, which allowed artists to distribute and then sell more images. While this entailed a more complicated process, lithography was drawn on stone before printing to provide more durability. And while numerous artists experimented with this process, Henri Toulouse Lautrec gave his posters a unique texture through the method called crachis, a splatter technique that used multiple colors. One poster in the exhibition, Elles (These Women), 1896, exemplifies an iconic Lautrec lithograph.

From that point on, printmaking grew in popularity so that in the 20th century, every artist tried their hand at screen printing. The exhibition displays a wealth of prints where the names read similar to an art history text: James McNeil Whistler, Paul Gauguin, Max Beckman, Mary Cassat, Robert Rauschenberg, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, Käthe Kollwitz, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns and Jim Dine. While there will be only one print per artist, except for several of Dine, the exhibition gives beautiful print example of these famous artists, and one sculpture with screen printing on plexiglass by Victor Vasarely. 

Perhaps one of the best elements about the UWM exhibition is the free catalogue, which succinctly defines vocabulary for the print processes to assist in greater understanding of this art medium. Viewing UWM's “Dürer to Dine” would be a great introduction to the Print:MKE conference, a sterling opportunity to see these grand masters of printmaking before the contemporary masters arrive in Milwaukee. 

The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Art History Gallery in Mitchell Hall, Room 154, presents “Dürer to Dine: 500 Years of Printmaking” from March 7 through March 28.

 

 

 

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