Indepth Arts News: |
"The Unfinished Print: Works by Rembrandt, Piranesi, Degas, Munch and Others"
2001-06-03 until 2001-10-07
National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art's exhibition, The Unfinished Print, investigates the
question of aesthetic resolution in European printmaking from the 15th- to the early 20th century.
Approximately 100 works in various stages of completion by such artists as Hendrik Goltzius,
Rembrandt van Rijn, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Paul Gauguin, and Edvard
Munch reveal the importance of artistic process in the history of printmaking. The exhibition is on view
in the West Building, Prints and Drawings Galleries, from 3 June through 7 October 2001.
The exhibition opens in conjunction with Jasper Johns: Prints from Four Decades and American
Naive Paintings, which will be on view during the same period in adjacent galleries.
The breadth and depth of the Gallery's rich collection of prints is wonderfully explored in this
installation, which follows the evolution of printed images by major European artists from the
Renaissance onward, said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art.
The question of when a work of art achieves aesthetic resolution is central to the history of art and has
special implications for printmaking. An artist working on plate will normally take proof impressions
along the way to check its progress, allowing the viewer to trace the thinking and rethinking involved in
the making of any work of art. However proof states establish an exact record of the actual image in
process. Amplified by experiments with varying states and differing impressions, printmakers gradually
cultivated an interest in this distinctive aspect of their trade.
The exhibition begins with prints from the Renaissance, continuing on to preliminary landmark prints by
Hendrik Goltzius and Anthony van Dyck. More than 25 works by Rembrandt unveil the full spectrum
of possibilities for interpreting the unfinished print in all its complexity. The refined rococo taste for
proof states originating within the circle of Antoine Watteau, and the fractured architectural visions of
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, reflect the radical divisions of taste in the 18th century. A romantic
fascination with artistic process as a means of conveying private meaning emerged in the 19th century in
a series of intensely personal etchings of by Charles Meryon.
An inventive obsession with technical process, extending to the revival of the monotype, revolutionized
the creative force of printmaking in Paris during the late 19th- and early 20th centuries. The works of
Vicomte Lepic, Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Jacques Villon, Edvard Munch, and Paul Gauguin
illustrate the profound importance of the unfinished print for the genesis of European modernism.
Anthony van Dyck
Self Portrait, c. 1629/1630
National Gallery of Art, Washington,