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The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin continues its series of exhibitions revealing the many strengths of its collection of works on paper. Representing the 16th through 20th centuries, this third installment of 500 Years of Prints and Drawings presents five focused exhibitions that each explore a different, theme, technique, or artist from one century in the history of art. 500 Years of Prints and Drawings features works drawn entirely from the Blanton's collection of works on paper, the largest and most historically balanced of its kind in the southern and southwestern United States. The upcoming group of exhibitions explores a broad cross section of this collection, from fantastical 16th-century ornamental prints, to rich 18th-century British mezzotints, to 20th-century works from the influential print workshop Atelier 17. The exhibitions will be on view from September 13 through December 29, 2002 in the Museum's Mezzanine Gallery, in the Art Building at 23rd and San Jacinto on the UT-Austin campus.
The five exhibitions in 500 Years of Prints and Drawing for Fall 2002 are:
Prints of Ornament from the Northern Renaissance
Prints of ornament form a critical, if under-appreciated, genre that found its highest expression in Northern Europe during the 16th century. Combining works already in the Blanton's collection with works from the newly acquired Leo Steinberg Collection, this exhibition showcases some of the best examples of ornament from this period. From the geometric pattern of Dürer's woodcut "knot" and the exquisite engravings of followers like Beham and Aldegrever, to the extravagant fantasies of the School at Fontainebleau and the Italianate inventions of the late-century Flemish, this selection encompasses the principal types and stages of ornament as it developed in the North.
Florentine Drawing in the Time of Empoli
Last spring the museum acquired an altarpiece by Jacopo Chimenti, called Empoli, a major figure in the transition of the Florentine school from Mannerism toward the Baroque. This exhibition presents 15 drawings by Empoli and his Florentine contemporaries: from followers of Vasari like Stradano, to complex intermediaries like Cigoli, to vibrant 17th-century decorators like Volteranno. These drawings reveal more of the personality, evoke more of the stylistic context, and describe something of the preparatory steps of the new altarpiece. At the same time, they convey the exceptional depth and interrelation of the Blanton's Old Master collection.
The Great Age of British Mezzotint
Developed in late 17th-century Holland, mezzotint is a laborious printmaking technique achieved through roughing, then selectively cleaning and burnishing the surface of a copper plate to create a matrix of extremely subtle and continuous variation. Mezzotints achieve extremely fine tonal gradation and incomparable fidelity to the appearance of texture. The technique attained its highest level in 18th-century Britain, above all as a means of reproducing portrait paintings. This exhibition unites the collection's finest examples of this great age, featuring splendid interpretations of the works of Reynolds, Romney, and Gainsborough, along with a celebrated narrative work by Earlom, an unusual original rendering by Frye, and rare proofs by Constable's collaborator, David Lucas.
Ferdinand Gaillard: Re-Discovered Master of Reproductive Printmaking
Béraldi, the leading connoisseur and cataloguer of 19th-century French prints, described Gaillard as "astonishing…singular…one of the great engravers of his time." In Paris from the 1860s through the 1880s, his works commanded formidable prices, and even the important modernist critic Roger-Marx collected them avidly. Yet Ferdinand Gaillard never entered the history of art, and today his name is unfamiliar even to most print scholars. Featuring some of Gaillard's finest works, as well as rare proof impressions, this exhibition affirms his place as the last master of reproductive and portrait engraving, upholding French tradition in the face of the avant-garde and cultivating extraordinary technique in competition with photography.
Atelier 17 and Its American Influence
Atelier 17 was established in Paris in 1927 by Stanley William Hayter as a workshop where artists could share ideas, collaborate, and most importantly experiment with new techniques. Trained as a chemist, Hayter brought a scientific approach to printmaking, inventing the process of color viscosity printing and exploring it with great success in his own abstract works. At the onset of World War II Hayter relocated to New York, where he re-established Atelier 17, introducing American artists to color intaglio printmaking and providing a model for the modern printmaking studio. This exhibition features highlights from Hayter's later activity as well as prints by many of his American disciples, including Gabor Peterdi, Mauricio Lasansky, Krishna Reddy, and the Texan Dickson Reeder.
Also on view, Masterpieces of European Painting complements 500 Years of Prints and Drawings, presenting more than forty paintings from the 15th through 17th centuries. This permanent installation showcases some works from the celebrated Suida-Manning Collection that have never before been on public display. This fall also marks the return of many paintings that have been on view in a much-celebrated exhibition in Cremona, Italy. Several of these were beautifully cleaned and restored before their return to Austin. Acquired in 1998, the Suida-Manning Collection is widely recognized as one of the greatest privately assembled collections of Renaissance and Baroque art in the world.
The Blanton's rapidly growing permanent collection of prints and drawings consists of more than 14,000 works of art. The collection has strengths in Old Master prints and drawings, 20th-century American prints, and Latin American prints and drawings, with significant examples by printmakers from Albrecht Dürer and Andrea Mantegna to Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, and distinctive groups of reproductive prints, portraits, modern wood engravings, and regional work. With the acquisition of the Suida-Manning Collection in 1998, the Blanton's holdings of Old Master drawings became among the finest in the U.S., including renowned groups of Italian, French, and German Baroque works. In addition, the museum has recently announced the acquisition of the print collection of noted art historian and critic Leo Steinberg. The Leo Steinberg Collection added 3,200 prints to the Blanton's holdings. It includes works from the 15th through the 20th centuries, including masterpieces by Marcantonio Raimondi, Albrecht Dürer, Parmigianino, Cornelis Cort, Hendrick Goltzius, Claude Lorrain, Rembrandt, and Francesco Piranesi, as well as William Blake, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, George Grosz, Jasper Johns, and many others artists both known and unknown to contemporary scholars.
The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art is one of the foremost university art museums in the country and the leading art museum serving the city of Austin and central Texas. The Blanton's permanent collection spans the history of Western civilization with approximately 17,000 works of art from Europe, the United States, and Latin America.
As a teaching museum, the Blanton is an important center for scholarship, research, and professional training in the visual arts. It also presents a wide range of special exhibitions and educational programs to the University and surrounding region. As the only encyclopedic art museum in the city, the Blanton also serves as a vital cultural cornerstone for the city of Austin, contributing to the high quality of life for which Austin is known. Through its role at The University of Texas at Austin, a flagship institution of higher learning in Texas, the Blanton enriches the cultural life of the entire state, helping people throughout Texas appreciate the history and role of the arts in their lives, work, and communities.
Also on view at the Blanton from September 13 through December 29 are the exhibitions Routes toward Modernism: American Painting 1870 - 1950; Surface and Subtext: Latin American Geometric Abstraction; and Cartoon Noir: Four Contemporary Investigations.