September 13 – December 29, 2002
The Blanton continues its series of exhibitions revealing the many strengths of its collection of works on paper. Representing the 16th through 20th centuries, five focused presentations each explore a different, theme, technique, or artist from one century in the history of art.
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 “astonishingly… 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.