The Language of Prints


The Language of Prints

April 19, 2008
September 17, 2008

About the Exhibition

April 19, 2008 – September 17, 2008

This season the Blanton Museum of Art presents an important exhibition of prints drawn exclusively from its renowned collection. The Language of Prints will provide an opportunity for seasoned connoisseurs to view a comprehensive section of the Blanton’s collection, as well as serve as an overview to anyone who has ever wondered about the importance of prints or how to read the nuanced craftsmanship behind these complex works on paper.

Conceived as an introduction to this distinctive medium, the exhibition includes more than 100 rare works from the museum’s collection, with examples from Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Francisco Goya, Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse, Carol Bove, and many others. With works from the 15th century to today, it serves as a comprehensive overview of the history of printmaking, but more importantly, it examines the relationship between the works and the society and time in which they were produced. Through insightful parings, the principles, techniques and processes of prints will be examined, offering viewers an accessible explanation of the medium.

Jonathan Bober, Curator of Prints, Drawings and European Paintings, explains, “Prints are the most frequently experienced but least understood works of art. In most exhibitions, the medium is usually presented in terms of its great masters or explained solely in terms of technique. This exhibition uses these traditional presentations as simply a point of departure. It explores the medium as a rich and largely collective system of expression–a ‘language’– all its own.”

The exhibition explores three important areas: the principles, techniques, and processes of the medium. Mezzotints, engravings, lithographs, woodcuts, etchings, and many other print making methods will be explained to viewers, with first-rate examples of each process. In addition to printmaking techniques, viewers will come to understand how throughout history, prints have functioned within their respective societies. Used as advertisements, teaching or proselytizing tools, portraits, and even currency, prints have long influenced society in both direct and subtle ways.

The exhibition, on view April 19 through August 17, also marks the occasion of the 2008 annual meeting of the Print Council of America. This meeting in May, organized by the Blanton, is the first Council meeting in Texas. The Council specifically selected the Blanton for its comprehensive collection, which is widely recognized as one of the largest and most distinctive collections of prints on a university campus.

The Language of Prints is organized by the Blanton Museum of Art. Funding for the exhibition is provided by Robert Loper.

The Blanton’s Collection of Prints and Drawings

The Blanton’s 15,000 prints and drawings form the only encyclopedic collection in Texas and one of the finest on an American campus. These prints reflect the history, characteristics, and processes of the medium from the Renaissance to the present day. More generally, with numerous examples of major masters from Dürer and Rembrandt through Goya and Picasso, and large groups of reproductive prints, the collection represents Western art in considerable detail and at a high level of aesthetic quality. In addition to American and Latin American prints, the collection includes 8,500 European prints, which are distinguished in the following areas: Marcantonio Raimondi and his school; the Little Masters of 16th-century Nuremburg; the Dutch Mannerists; 17th–century Italian etchers; 17th and 18th-century French printmaking; late 18th and early 19th-century British printmaking; Romantic lithography; the Etching Revival in Britain and France; modern wood engraving; and the Swiss Concrete movement.

The museum’s 1,500 drawings include examples from most periods and cultures, ranging from Raphael and Guercino to J.M.W. Turner and Richard Serra. The Blanton’s holdings are distinguished in the following areas: Italian Renaissance drawings, which include works by Raphael, Correggio, and Luca Cambiaso; Baroque drawings (Italian, French, and Central European), which constitute one of the finest and most extensive collections in this country; Contemporary Latin American drawing, which include works by Luis Benedit and Juan Calzadilla.

The Blanton’s prints and drawings collection, while possessing a solid reputation as broad, deep, and of high quality, was greatly enhanced with the major acquisitions of the Suida-Manning and Leo Steinberg Collections. In 1998, in addition to paintings, the Suida–Manning Collection brought some 400 Renaissance and Baroque drawings by many important painters and draftsmen to the Blanton’s collection. With this acquisition, the Blanton’s holdings of Old Master drawings became one of the finest in the nation, with renowned groups of Italian, French, and German Baroque works. In 2002, noted art historian and critic Leo Steinberg gave his collection of more than 3,200 prints to the Blanton. This encyclopedic collection was among the finest in private hands in the United States and is recognized by scholars for its extraordinary quality, range, and depth, and for its representation of rare and unique works. It includes prints from the 15th through the 20th centuries, including masterpieces by Marcantonio Raimondi, Dürer, Parmigianino, Cornelis Cort, Hendrick Goltzius, Claude Lorrain, Rembrandt, and Francesco Piranesi, as well as William Blake, Matisse, Picasso, George Grosz, Jasper Johns, and many others.

For press images please visit our Press Room

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes
Las rinde el sueño [Sleep Overcomes Them], plate 34 From Los Caprichos, 1799
Etching and burnished aquatint
The Teaching Collection of Marvin Vexler, ’48, 1989
Pablo Picasso
Bust de profil [Portrait of Jacqueline], 1957
Lithograph on zinc
Purchase from the Severin Wunderman Collection Fund, 1995
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