Renaissance Impressions: Chiaroscuro woodcuts from the Collections of Georg Baselitz and the Albertina, Vienna

Of course I’m biased as a printmaker, but surely even non-printmakers can appreciate the amazing beauty in the Chiaroscuro woodcuts from two of the finest collections in the world currently on show at the Royal Academy.

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael Archimedes (?) c. 1518-20 - Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from five blocks, the tone blocks in beige, pale brown, brown and blackish brown 44.5 x 34.7 cm Albertina, Vienna. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienna - RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/10

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael Archimedes (?) c. 1518-20 – Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from five blocks, the tone blocks in beige, pale brown, brown and blackish brown 44.5 x 34.7 cm Albertina, Vienna. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienna – RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/10

These works were either conceived as “independent works or based on the designs of the greatest Renaissance artists such as Parmigianino, Raphael and Titian”. The pioneering 16th-century printing technique:

“breathed new life into well-known biblical scenes and legends; from Perseus slaying the Medusa to Aeneas Fleeing Troy, and the Miraculous Draught of Fishes.”

In this exhibition the RA has gathered 150 of the most exquisite and rare examples of this forgotten art form, with a focus on the chiaroscuro method and the craftsmanship of its proponents in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, which created the first colour prints “that make dramatic use of light and dark.”

I am in awe at the beauty and technical perfection of these marvellous prints. The exhibition is on at the RA now and runs until June 8.

Take a look at the article and images for the “Renaissance Impressions” exhibition on the RA website: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/10

Master printmaker Norman Stevens at the Royal Academy

Norman Stevens ARA Painswick, Moonlight 1979 - Etching and aquatint Private collection © Estate of the artist - from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

Norman Stevens ARA Painswick, Moonlight 1979 – Etching and aquatint Private collection © Estate of the artist – from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

I’m looking forward to catching the RA exhibition of the works of the much admired Norman Stevens ARA, who originally trained as a painter alongside John Loker, David Hockney RA and David Oxtoby in the 1950s at Bradford College of Art. The exhibition features works from Stevens’ first black and white etchings to the large-scale prints he made in in the 1980s.

Norman Stevens ARA Levens Hall Garden 1985 - Screenprint Private collection © Estate of the artist from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

Norman Stevens ARA Levens Hall Garden 1985 – Screenprint Private collection © Estate of the artist, from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

Described on the RA website as “a master of the medium”, Stevens is a self-taught printmaker, and found in this work “an art form that perfectly suited his meticulous and subtle approach.”

Stevens’ prints “make use of colour, light and shade to powerful and often haunting effect” as he explores the built environment and landscape.

Indeed, the art critic, William Packer, likens Stevens’ work to a “game of hide-and-seek with the real world”, where “”human presence is always suggested but never shown.”

 

 

 

Norman Stevens ARA Morning 1973 - etching, aquatint and mezzotint Private collection © Estate of the artist, from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

Norman Stevens ARA Morning 1973 – etching, aquatint and mezzotint Private collection © Estate of the artist, from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

I’m looking forward to seeing “in the flesh” the prints that the RA describes as “at the heart of the exhibition” – the important groups of prints which include his depictions of Venetian blinds and ‘clapboard’ houses, as well as his “distinctive images of Stonehenge and his captivating views of English formal gardens.”

I can’t wait to discover  more about the work of this artist who developed, over the course of his career, “an international reputation for his technically brilliant and beguiling prints.”

The Norman Stevens ARA exhibition is on at the RA now and runs until May 25.

Read the RA article about the Norman Stevens exhibition https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16