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Passion and Virtuosity: Hendrick Goltzius and the Art of Engraving

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A major exhibition featuring the work of Hendrick Goltzius will take place at USD from Feb.  21 through May 25.   Goltzius was one of the most significant and highly influential European printmakers of the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Passion and Virtuosity: Hendrick Goltzius and the Art of Engraving brings together nearly 60 works by this master engraver and his contemporaries.  The exhibition is a collaborative effort by USD and the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. In addition to works from USD’s and the Crocker’s permanent collections, Passion and Virtuosity includes outstanding examples of prints and drawings from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Hammer Museum, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and private collectors throughout the country.

“We are proud of the partnership with the Crocker Museum that enables us to present this remarkable ensemble of masterworks to the art community of Southern California,” said Derrick Cartwright, director of University Galleries at USD.  “Though his name is less well known to us today, Goltzius was as important to the art of engraving as Rembrandt van Rijn was to etching in his time. Goltzius’ virtuoso technique and his original treatment of iconography combined to make him one of the most sought-after printmakers in Europe.  He has remained celebrated there by connoisseurs and museum professionals up to the present day.  The public that comes to see this work in person is in for a treat.”

At the core of this collaborative exhibition are Goltzius’ prints dedicated to The Life of the Virgin and The Passion series, both of which demonstrate his chameleon-like virtuosity and distinctive style of engraving, such as the use of a swelling and tapering line to emphasize the illusion of volume that was adopted by a workshop of his students and followers.

Divided thematically, the exhibition focuses as much on technique as it does on the various subjects of Goltzius’ series.  Passion and Virtuosity explores the influence and interpretation of earlier printmakers in Goltzius’ work as well. Demonstrating the visual dialogue between Goltzius and some important precursors such as Albrecht Dürer, Passion and Virtuosity provides a deeper understanding of the history of engraving and visual culture in the late sixteenth century.

The exhibit has been curated by Victoria Sancho Lobis, former curator of USD’s print collection and now the Prince Trust Associate Curator in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago, and William Breazeale, Curator at the Crocker Art Museum.   A panel discussion featuring Lobis and Breazeale, moderated by John Wilson, Director of the Timken Museum of Art, will take place in USD’s French Parlor in Founders Hall on Friday, Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. to noon.  This program, like all others created by the University Galleries, is free to the public.

“We appreciate the curators’ collaborative approach to this important work and we are grateful to Victoria and William for all they’ve done to make this exhibition worthwhile for our audiences,” Cartwright said. The exhibit was shown at the Crocker Museum last fall and is the first in-depth exhibition devoted to Goltzius’s prints in California in more than 20 years.

“We also wish to express our gratitude for the generous support of USD benefactors Robert and Karen Hoehn, admirers of Goltzius’ oeuvre and passionate supporters of research on old master prints. Both the Crocker Art Museum and the University Galleries are grateful to Bob and Karen for their inspired philanthropy.”

Passion and Virtuosity is part of a rich and diverse array of exhibits at USD this semester.  Other projects include Game Changer 2: Contemporary Paintings and Sculpture from the Matthew and Iris Strauss Family Foundation; Textile Art with Machines: Baskets from the May Collection and Rwanda: Two Decades of Photographs, 1994-2014. For more information, go to www.sandiego.edu/galleries.

– Liz Harman

Passion and Virtuosity: Hendrick Goltzius and the Art of Engraving

Feb. 21 through May 25
Robert and Karen Hoehn Family Galleries in USD Founders Hall
Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. and Thursday, noon to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free

Image: Hendrick Goltzius, The Annunciation (Birth and Early Life of Christ), 1594, Engraving.  University of San Diego, Print Collection.  Acquired in Honor of Robert Hoehn.

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