The masters of printmaking are celebrated in a retrospective show

Edvard Munch
Joan Miró
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Ludwig Heinrich Jungnickel
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The Albertina Museum

The Albertina Museum in Vienna presents a retrospective of the history of printmaking over six centuries. In the exhibition Great Masters of Printmaking, masterpieces such as Albrecht Dürer’s Knight, Death and the Devil, Munch’s The Kiss and Miró’s Abstract Composition are displayed. Like no other collection in the world, the Albertina can exhibit the history of the graphic arts with outstanding pieces taken from its own collection.

The invention of printing is one of the most outstanding artistic achievements of the late Middle Ages. The mass reproduction of images only became possible in Central Europe with the arrival of paper production in the late fourteenth century.

Woodblock Printing

Woodblock printing appeared in the early fifteenth century, copperplate engraving before the middle of the century, and etching shortly before 1500. Printmaking became an independent art genre that soon equalled painting. Compared to woodcut and copperplate engraving, which required more work and material costs, etching offered greater scope for artistic experimentation and creative freedom. Moreover, due to the spontaneous ductus [Latin for the direction, sequence and speed of a moving pencil] of its line image, it is closer to drawing than other printing techniques. Starting in the early nineteenth century, lithography allowed large print editions without losing print quality. From the 1960s onwards, a ground-breaking redefinition of printmaking emerged: the principle of serial work and the magnification of the medium were discovered by both female and male artists.

Printmaking in Europe

Throughout the centuries, artists have explored various printing techniques, initially with gouges and gravers, later with dry point, and then with etching processes, up to the complex chemical steps of lithography. This medium conquered all European countries, from Spain to the Netherlands, Germany to Italy and Norway to England. The variety of subjects artists use is as diverse as the technique itself: portraits, landscapes, sacred stories, or socially critical images.

Albrecht Dürer

Dürer. Munch. Miró. The Great Masters of Printmaking

The exhibition, Dürer. Munch. Miró. The Great Masters of Printmaking presents outstanding works of the ‘Old Masters’ (including Albrecht Dürer, Pieter Bruegel and Rembrandt van Rijn) as well as impressive works of modern and contemporary art as exemplified by the magnificent lithographs of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and the Norwegian Edvard Munch’s revolutionary, symbolist-expressionist woodcuts.

Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Käthe Kollwitz as Printmakers

The works of Marc Chagall and Joan Miró close the exhibition. Käthe Kollwitz, Portuguese Paula Rego, and the Austrian artist Florentina Pakosta represent influential women artists.

Text & photos courtesy of the Albertina Museum