The Etching Revival: Its French Sources and American Legacy
In the mid-nineteenth century, French artists began exploring the creative potential of etching, a medium previously used to reproduce paintings for publication. Spurred in part by their European counterparts, late nineteenth-century American artists began to explore the medium’s possibilities. French and American etchers both drew inspiration from the French Barbizon school, who rejected conservative traditions and formal subjects, instead painting pastoral landscapes using soft colors and loose brushwork. American etchers also looked to the Hudson River School, who painted the nation’s wild landscape in grand scale, hoping to impart a sense of awe. The American prints of this period feature many subjects favored in France, but filled with turbulent skies, deep shadows, and energetic lines common in American paintings of the time.
By the early 20th century, landscapes in art were increasingly focused on growing cities and the mechanization and isolation these urban centers brought. In the 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, pastoral scenes were imbued with nostalgia. A few American artists returned to rural subjects in prints and paintings. In many of these, the energy of line apparent in the first prints of the American etching revival had taken precedent over the landscape. These stylized and nostalgic rural images of the 1930s now define the Regionalist style, most associated with artists Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood.
Artists of the American etching revival paved the way for a twentieth-century reinterpretation of the national landscape through their focus on expressive line, striking contrasts of light and shadow, intrepid rural workers, and a quickly-industrializing nation.
The Etching Revival: its French Sources and American Legacy is organized by SUArt Galleries, Syracuse, New York
Reception for Fall 2019
Thursday, September 26, 7 p.m.
Campus Gallery, Top Floor, Elaine Langone Center
The Samek Art Museum will launch the Fall 2019 semester with an opening reception in honor of our latest exhibitionsThe Etching Revival: Its French Sources and American Legacyand Damaged Goods: The Punk Aesthetic.
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