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#Woodcut From 1400 to the present

The exhibition marks the start of a new series in the Kupferstichkabinett that presents artistic image printing. In each case, the focus is on a graphic technique with its characteristics, its special possibilities and limitations.

Albrecht Dürer/Willem Janssen, Rhinocerus, Detail, 1515 (1620), Farbholzschnitt
Albrecht Dürer/Willem Janssen, Rhinocerus, Detail, 1515 (1620), Farbholzschnitt © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett / Karls Perstling

On display will be exclusively works from the Kupferstichkabinett's extensive holdings, including prints on paper and parchment as well as unique printing blocks from various eras.

The exhibition spans the diverse beginnings of printing in the 15th century, through color experiments in the 16th century and Baroque large formats, to the revival of the technique in the early 20th century.

Contemporary works that oscillate between the demand for a unique one-of-a-kind piece and the reproductive nature of the medium illustrate the enduring importance of woodcut art. Alongside well-known masterpieces, discoveries and rarities will also be on view.

Artists* in the exhibition:
Gerhard Altenbourg, Jost Amman, Hans Baldung, Jacopo de' Barbari, Georg Baselitz, Hans Sebald Beham, Peter Behrens, Thomas Bewick, Joseph Beuys, Jean Bézart, Willem Jansz. Blaeu, Niccolò Boldrini, Giovanni Britto, Hans Burgkmair the. E., André Butzer, Ugo da Carpi, Francesco Clemente, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Albrecht Dürer, Lyonel Feininger, Ester Fleckner, Frank Morley Fletcher, Helen Frankenthaler, Caspar David Friedrich, Franz Gertsch, Hendrick Goltzius, Hans Hartung, Sella Hasse, Erich Heckel, Jacoba Heemskerck van Beest, Ludwig von Hofmann, John Baptist Jackson, Christoffel Jegher, Wassily Kandinsky, Anselm Kiefer, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Käthe Kollwitz, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Matthias Mansen, Gerhard Marcks, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Meister Casper, Adolph Menzel, Johannes Molzahn, Carl Moser, Otto Mueller, Edvard Munch, Emil Nolde, Emil Orlik, A. R. Penck, Lucien Pissarro, Alfred Rethel, Ludwig Richter, Peter Paul Rubens, Hans Schaur, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Hans Springinklee, Max Thalmann, Carl Theodor Thiemann, Titian, Nasan Tur, Angelo Valla, Félix Vallotton, Michael Wolgemut and Antonio Maria Zanetti.

The exhibition is curated by Georg Josef Dietz, Head of the Conservation/Restoration Department, and Christien Melzer, Curator of Dutch and English Art before 1800 of the Kupferstichkabinett.

An extensive supporting program accompanies the exhibition.

#woodcut. 1400 to today

In the beginning there is the woodcut. It is the oldest printmaking technique and is still used today by artists worldwide. The special exhibition shows a varied selection of over 100 works from the rich holdings of the Kupferstichkabinett. It spans the spectrum from the early woodcuts of the 15th century, often preserved in only a few copies, to large-format contemporary works. Along this chronological axis, the focus is on various themes, such as the interplay of material and technique or the use of woodcuts. This ranges from Christian devotion with images of saints to card games, ornamentation in late Gothic wooden boxes and impressive room decorations to book illustration, pamphlets or painting production. In addition to their very practical use, woodblock prints also emerged as independent works of art for collectors.

Special attention is given to the development of the color woodblock print, because in all epochs artists* were looking for possibilities to produce colorful prints. This sometimes led to completely unexpected results. Thus, hand-painted prints from 1460 are on display, as well as the first colored prints by Hans Burgkmair and Lucas Cranach the Elder, who competed to invent this technique. In contrast, there are also multicolored 16th-century chiaroscuro woodcuts from Italy and the Netherlands, extravagant Rococo color prints, and 20th-century sheets made with more than 20 color plates that, inspired by Japanese woodcut masters, are more reminiscent of watercolors than woodcuts.

Around 1900, Expressionists such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, following in the footsteps of Paul Gauguin, rediscovered the woodcut for themselves. They saw the technique as an expression of a new originality and created masterpieces in a reduced formal language. It is surprising to see the variety of ways in which artists are still working with the technique in the second half of the 20th century: The exhibition shows abstract compositions by Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hartung or Esther Fleckner as well as figurative to photorealistic works by Anselm Kiefer, Georg Baselitz or Franz Gertsch. Contemporary positions in particular, which oscillate between the claim of a unique one-off and the reproductive, mass-media character of the medium, enrich the presentation. In this way, the surprising abundance and enduring topicality of this printing technique is brought to light. A special highlight are printing blocks from various epochs from the Kabinett's holdings, which are shown in large numbers for the first time and make the material tangible to the senses.


A special exhibition of the Kupferstichkabinett - National Museums in Berlin

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Price info: Woodcut. Woodcut:From 1400 to the present

Price: €6.00

Reduced price: €3.00
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