The University’s Samek Art Museum Campus Gallery is currently showcasing the exhibit “The Etching Revival: Its French Sources and American Legacy,” which opened on Aug. 13 and will be displayed through Sept. 29.
The exhibit presents the development and evolution of etching – which was originally used to recreate paintings for print and publication – to show the rejection of traditional uses of etching for new, innovative ways to manipulate and work the medium. In the mid- to late- 19th century, both French and American artists were increasingly interested in redefining the art of etching, which is showcased in the display.
One of the multiple etchings on display at the Campus Gallery is Thomas Moran’s 1880 piece, “The Rainbow.” Moran was a print maker and painter of the Hudson River School, which was at the forefront of landscape art in the late-19th century. Etchings like “The Rainbow” moved away from traditional etching, opting to focus more on artistic landscapes than depicting formal subjects. Additionally, the technique used in “The Rainbow” mimics the brush strokes used in landscape paintings, with Moran using intricate lines to build up dark shadows and create motion within the etching.
“I think it is really interesting to see how the etchings and their subject matter change along with the time period. Also, you can see the development of technique over time and the differences between the French artists and the American artists,” Rachel Milio ’22 said.
Museum guide Kallie Kocinski ’21 elaborated on the high level of technique that is necessary to produce such prints. “Many times prints are just seen as a simple way to reproduce paintings and drawings, but I think it is an art form on its own. I think it’s really great that we have such a large show with largely detailed and impressive etchings that can stand on their own against other artwork,” Kocinski said.
Other artworks on display at the Campus Gallery include early 20th-century etchings that focus on the rapid urbanization occurring in Europe and the United States rather than the landscapes. Such works began to emphasize the massive crowds and new city skylines that accompanied urbanization. These images of urbanization quickly changed with the approach of the Great Depression, as artists began to revert back to landscape style etchings that were influenced by rural, impoverished America.
“I really enjoy the wide array of exhibits and artwork that the Samek Campus Gallery brings to the University. I like how the Gallery had intricate etchings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries at the same time as the ‘Damaged Goods: The Punk Aesthetic’ exhibit, which displays artwork that is completely different,” Milio said.
The exhibit is open to visitors from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday every week. Other upcoming exhibitions include “10: Artist as Catalyst” and “Guerrilla Girls: Art of Behaving Badly.” Admission is free to the Campus Gallery, which is located on the third floor of the Elaine Langone Center.