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“Then & Now: Five Centuries of Woodcuts” Opens January 10

Posted by on Thursday, January 3, 2019 in Events, Fine Arts Gallery, HART, News, Student/Alumni, VRC.

WoodcutsThenNowThen & Now: Five Centuries of Woodcuts (January 10-March 1, 2019) features more than forty prints from Vanderbilt’s collections, surveying the wide range of woodcuts created over 500 years and across many cultures. Together, these works speak to the arresting potential of the woodcut medium and its persistent place in contemporary art.

The Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery exhibit opens Thursday, January 10, in Cohen Memorial Hall on the Peabody campus, with a reception from 5 to 7 pm in the atrium. Gallery hours are 11am to 4pm Monday through Friday, and 1 to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.

Beginning with Michael Wolgemut’s Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (ca. 1491), the exhibition continues its survey through 16th-century examples by the Northern Renaissance master of the medium Albrecht Dürer, a student of Wolgemut, as well as works by other prominent German artists, including Lucas Cranach the Elder, Hans Baldung Grien, and Albrecht Altdorfer. Spotlighting printmaking practices outside of Germany are chiaroscuro woodcuts by Italian artists Ugo da Carpi, one of the first practitioners of this early form of color printmaking, and Antonio Fantuzzi da Trento, as well as an example by Netherlandish artist Paulus Moreelse. Also on view is a recently conserved 17th-century woodcut, Hercules Overcoming Envy, by Christoffel Jegher after a design by Peter Paul Rubens—often considered to be one of the most important works in the history of printmaking.

The 19th century is represented by The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, a rare, large-scale volume printed in 1896 by William Morris, with engraved illustrations by Edward Burne-Jones, on loan from Vanderbilt’s Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.

Moving into the 20th century, a suite of powerful woodcuts created by World War I veteran and artist Conrad Felixmüller in 1918 and a work from 1923 by Gerhard Marcks help illuminate the medium’s more recent revival at the hands of prominent German Expressionists, who were directly inspired by medieval woodcuts. A print by Dadaist Hans Arp is included among those on view, along with works by other 20th-century artists such as the Americans Fritz Eichenberg and Sidney Chafetz. (The latter two are recent gifts that will be shown for the first time in the gallery.)

Two prints from a portfolio created by contemporary American artist Jay Bolotin, as source material for what may be the first animated woodcut film, are also on view, along with the film itself. Additional 21st-century prints, by the German artist Christiane Baumgartner and the Korean-born artist Koo Kyung Sook, bring the exhibition into the present, illustrating the medium’s arresting potential and persistent place in contemporary art.

A concurrent presentation of works in Gallery 2, curated by Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery intern Echo Sun (art and psychology major, Class of 2020), focuses on Japanese woodblock prints from the 19th and 20th centuries. This display of work reveals the enduring influence of traditional ukiyo-e (pictures of the “floating world”) prints, while highlighting examples of more contemporary, artist-driven expressions of the form. This companion presentation to Then & Now: Five Centuries of Woodcuts includes editions by Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Hiroshige, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Kiyoshi Saito, and Takahashi Hiroaki (Shotei), among other Japanese artists working in the woodblock print medium over these two centuries.

Free and open to the public, the exhibit, curated by Joseph Mella, gallery director, will be on view through Friday, March 1. Parking is available anywhere in Lot 95 on the Peabody campus, accessible from 21st Avenue South.

*Antonio Fantuzzi da Trento (Italian, 1510–1550). The Virgin, Christ Child, and Saint John the Baptist, after Parmigianino (Italian, 1503–1540), ca. 1540-1550, chiaroscuro woodcut on woven paper, 7-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches,The Anna C. Hoyt Collection, Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery.

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