The collection Rembrandt to Picasso: Five Centuries of European Works on Paper highlights more than 100 lesser-known European prints and drawings by artists such as William Blake, Francisco Goya and Edgar Degas.
The exhibited pieces include intimate portraits, biting social satire, fantastical visions and vivid landscapes. Organized into four chronological sections, the works on display span the early sixteenth through the early twentieth centuries. These works are highlights from Brooklyn Museum’s collection of European works on paper and are rarely exhibited because of light-sensitivity, explained Lisa Small, senior curator of European art at Brooklyn Museum.
“There is an intimacy and immediacy to works on paper that seems to bring us nearest to an artist’s vision and process,” said Small. “These prints and drawings are examples of extraordinary technical achievement and vivid artistic experimentation, but they also offer an opportunity to explore compelling and provocative themes that continue to resonate today.”
The exhibition begins by exploring the rise of paper and print culture in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The increased availability of paper and the advent of printed images — first through woodcuts, engravings and etchings — made it possible to create multiple images that could be widely circulated. This allowed for artists like Albrecht Dürer to emerge, whose skills elevated printmaking to an independent art form. A series of his works on view include a large-scale, eight-part woodcut print, presented alongside pieces by Rembrandt van Rijn and Wenceslaus Hollar.
The exhibit’s second section highlights the work of artists, like William Hogarth, who was active during the 18th-century period of the Enlightenment, and who used printmaking to reflect on the era of intellectual and social reforms.
The third section is dedicated to the era of Romanticism, sparked by artists like Francisco Goya and William Blake who began to question the Enlightenment’s ideas of reason and rationalism, and who turned instead to exploring subjectivity and emotions in their works.
The exhibition’s final section highlights the revival of the more painterly, stylistic use of etchings by artists like Camille Corot, Édouard Manet, Berthe Morisot and Edgar Degas who experimented with graphite, watercolor and pastel; works by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Paul Cézanne who inspired a shift from naturalism to a more gestural, expressive aesthetic; and pieces by artists like Vasily Kandinsky, Erich Heckel and Käthe Kollwitz who embraced a new style of Expressionism, a more graphic form of distorted shapes, to communicate meaning in the wake of World War I.
The exhibit will run simultaneously with “One: Titus Kaphar,” an exhibit that explores marginalized voices and histories that were less likely to be presented by the white, male artists of the Western hemisphere.
Kaphar is a contemporary American fine artist who focuses on the lives of women and African Americans througout history; he will present his own work and provide commentary on select pieces from “Rembrandt to Picasso: Five Centuries of European Works on Paper.”
Rembrandt to Picasso: Five Centuries of European Works on Paper will open June 21, and remain on view through October 13. For more information, go here.
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