Dürer to Matisse: 400 Years of European Prints

September 27, 2024 - January 5, 2025

A cat sleeps outside while a mouse creeps up behind it

Dürer to Matisse: 400 Years of European Prints offers an exceptional opportunity to view nearly 100 prints by some of the most recognized artists active from the late fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, beginning and ending with two towering giants of printmaking—Albrecht Dürer and Henri Matisse. The Ackland Art Museum holds North Carolina’s largest and most comprehensive collections of art on paper, but due to light sensitivity, these works can only be displayed for short periods. Works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Francisco de Goya, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Vincent van Gogh, Käthe Kollwitz, Edvard Munch, and many others, showcase the craftsmanship, expressive power, and aesthetic beauty achieved through printmaking.

While a more personal selection emphasizing high quality and good condition than a comprehensive history of the medium, the prints on view do chart the progression of art historical movements from the Renaissance to Cubism and beyond, through woodcuts, engravings, etchings, aquatints, mezzotints, and lithographs. Some newly acquired and never before displayed at the Ackland, and others off view for decades, these prints reveal how the use of just black ink, paper, and various printmaking techniques can create a wealth of innovative and technically stunning works of art.

This presentation of Dürer to Matisse builds on a project developed for the Ackland Exchange Initiative, in which thirty-six European prints were lent to Fayetteville State University and Elizabeth City State University during the fall of 2023. Both exhibitions were organized by Dana E. Cowen, Sheldon Peck Curator for European and American Art before 1950.

Image credit

Cornelis Visscher Dutch, c. 1629-1658, The Large Cat, 1657, engraving sheet: 5 1/2 x 7 3/16 in. (14 x 18.3 cm). Burton Emmett Collection, 58.1.837.

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