This exhibition presents outstanding French prints from 1650 to 1715, an era in which the magnificence of Absolutism reached its climax. During the reign of Louis XIV, a principal task of the fine arts was to spread the glory and splendour of the Sun King as a statesman, general and patron far beyond the borders of his own country. Prints were especially suited to this purpose. They were easy to transport; they could be produced in great numbers; they were sold individually or sumptuously bound together, and they could unequivocally serve political aspriations. Engravings after paintings in the King’s collections, views of his palaces, and images of his military victories advanced them to highly respected prestige objects.
In 1660, Louis XIV freed engravers from the restrictions of the guild system and elevated them to the rank of free artists. In 1663 they were allowed to enter the Royal Academy, which provided standardized training and thereby ensured an extraodinarily high level of technical skills. The precision and inventiveness of engravers such as Gérard Edelinck, Robert Nanteuil, Pierre Drevet and Jean Audran, who used subtle graduated tonality, sophisticated lighting, and eleborately worked surfaces, contributed significantly to forming a French style that set the standard for later printmaking.
The engraver Anton Würth (*1957), who has explored the aesthetic quality of 17th century French engravings in depth, has been invited to make a guest contribution.
Fig.: Gérard Edelinck (1640–1707), The Battle of Anghiari, after a sketch by Peter Paul Rubens, after the lost fresco by Leonardo da Vinci, etching, 50 x 64 cm, © Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen / Photo: Karen Blindow
Sarah Morris, Jardim Botânico [Rio], 2013 (Detail), 59,81 m x 4,07 m
© Sarah Morris
The American artist and filmmaker Sarah Morris (* 1967) has created a monumental, panoramic mural for the central entrance hall of the Kunsthalle Bremen. Jardim Botânico [Rio] (“Botanical Garden”) is related to the artist’s new series of works entitled Rio but also reacts to the architecture of the museum. The spectacular installation combines luminous colours and abstract grid structures with rectangular and curved forms to form a spectacular environment. The numerous layers of brilliant pigments and
household enamels give rise to visual rhythms as well as to tactile, almost relief-like structures.
Morris works in the tradition of geometrical painting of modernism as well as of the 1960s with marked references to the oeuvre of Piet Mondrian, the American color field painters, Op Art and Victor Vasarely. She continues this tradition creatively into the future and instils new life into a reduced formal language through her dynamic, intensively colourful compositions. But with the shiny colours of her striking paintings and murals the artist also reflects critically on the illusionary world of Hollywood film and the surface aesthetics of glossy magazines, fashion and advertising.
The exhibition has been realised with the generous support of the Supporters’ Circle for Contemporary Art in the Kunstverein Bremen and the Bremer Landesbank.