Etchings by James MacNeil Whistler and his Contemporaries on View at the KIA

September 24 through November 27, 2011

Posted: September 9, 2011
Source: Farrell Howe
Job Title: Marketing & PR Coordinator
Phone: (269) 349-7775 ext. 3112

James Abbott McNeill Whistler Rotherhithe

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Rotherhithe, 1860, etching and drypoint | Permanent Collection Fund Purchase, 2005.21

An exhibition of approximately thirty prints, titled Shimmerings of Light, Mysteries of Shadow: The Etching Revival of the 19th Century, will be on view at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts from September 24 through November 27, 2011.

Etching, the process of drawing on and printing from copper plates, emerged as an important art form in the 17th century. During this period, it reached its pinnacle in the works of Rembrandt, who exploited the medium's expressive possibilities to an unprecedented degree. Yet etching subsequently fell into decline as the Academies, with their strict adherence to the principles of Classical art, came to dominate the artistic life of Europe.

By the1850s younger artists were rebelling against this tradition as they sought more personal forms of expression. They discovered that etching was ideally suited to capture the moods and textures of contemporary landscapes, both urban and rural. Drawing directly from nature rather than in the studio, etchers were the forefront of the dramatic changes that came to define 19th-century art.

This exhibition focuses on the artists of the "etching revival" that transformed etching into a modern, living art. It includes such masters of the medium as James McNeill Whistler, Charles Meryon, and Samuel Palmer. The works, drawn from the rich print collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, illustrate how etching, which required the artist to use line alone, introduced a new way of both drawing and perceiving the world. This view was strongly supported by a new and diverse audience that included poets and writers as well as middle-class collectors. What resulted was a new, "democratic" art market that freed the artist from being dependent solely on an endorsement by the academy.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a 3-week program will be offered as part of the Up Close series. Barbs, Beauty, and the Bite of the Print: James Whistler and the Etching Revival will focus on Whistler's colorful character and creative genius, as well as explore the subjects and styles of 19th-century etchers. Taught by Greg Waskowsky, the KIA's Associate Curator of Collections, the class will also include a demonstration of how etchings are created and printed.

The class will be held on Thursdays (Oct 13, Oct 20, and Oct 27), 6:30pm - 7:45pm at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, 314 S. Park St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007. Registration fee is $30 members/$40 non-members. Class size is limited, and advance registration is required. To register, please call (269) 349-7775 or register online by clicking here.

The Up Close series is sponsored by: ECCU