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Collective Identity: Expressionism to Realism and the Art of Printmaking in Germany

Wednesday, February 21–Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880-1938). Cows Descending, 1917. Woodcut, 16 5/8 x 23 1/8 inches  (42.2 x 58.7 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Gift of A. Conger Goodyear, by exchange, 1949. Charles Clifton Fund, 2003.

Albrecht Dürer, who is considered one of the greatest printmakers of all time, produced both woodcuts and engravings with a level of detail that is virtually unsurpassed. Dürer, among other German printmakers of the sixteenth century, was an enormous influence on early-twentieth-century German artists who were concerned with such issues as the atrocities of war, death, the difficulty of city life, and man's relationship with nature during a period of social upheaval and uncertainty in pre- and post-World War I Germany. In an effort to explore mediums beyond traditional painting and sculpture, these artists revitalized the woodcut - as well as other printmaking techniques such as etching and lithography - with an aggressively unique sense of color, line, and form. By reflecting back on a four hundred-year-old tradition of printmaking throughout Germany, this exhibition takes a closer look at the medium of printmaking and how it has formed a collective, national identity. This exhibition provides a historical context for this work by pairing sixteenth-century German prints with their twentieth-century counterparts, including prints by Max Beckmann, Albrecht Dürer, George Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Käthe Kollwitz, and Emil Nolde.