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Print & Drawing Fair 2011

March 18, 2011

I had a really great time at the IFPDA Print & Drawing Fair today.  It was definitely one of those art trips where I tried to see everything and felt pretty tired in a few hours: image processing overload.  This happens to me at big shows.  I always have to be stubborn and want to see everything, or at least as much as I can.

The range of works was very interesting.  The show had as promised antique works right up to art fresh from the press.  It was wonderfully like walking through an art history book, like the art student who walks through Vincent van Gogh’s paintings in the film Dreams by Akira Kurosawa.  The majority of the show consisted of the printmaking arts [etching, woodcuts, lithographs, etc.] with many famous and historical artists represented.

Kathe Kollwitz 1903

             Woman With a Dead Child by Käthe Kollwitz, intaglio, 1903

One dealer had a large collection of Käthe Kollwitz prints and some drawings on display.  I was impressed to see Woman With a Dead Child in person; it was about 16” x 20” or so – larger than I expected- and there are many fine sharp lines visible when you are close to the work.  This is a work I was familiar with from art history books but not from prior personal experience.  Kollwitz had a bold, expressive and emotional art style that was very individual.

The Harrowing of Hell – Christ in Limbo, from The Large Passion by Albrecht Dürer

Another dealer was gracious to answer a question about an Albrecht Dürer woodcut that I was very familiar with, having written a lengthy art historical and visual analysis paper on the work.  I had noticed the difference of being to see visible text being printed on the reverse of its paper and learned the print I am familiar with from MAIC was a type of artist proof and studio copy from 1510 whereas the print offered for sale by the dealer was from the original book and first printing released for sale and circulation in 1511; thus text was printed on the reverse and visible through the image.  How interesting!

Another dealer had some etchings by James McNeill Whistler which were printed on paper from the 1700s.  The dealer had told me Whistler had an interest in aged and antique papers for their qualities and valued them for printmaking.  Whistler had found something about the aged paper preferable or desirable.  I suggested that the antique paper Whistler used may have been drier than a bone and possibly had absorbed ink very well.

There were many dealers with wonderful Japanese woodcuts from Ukiyo-e through Contemporary works.  Utamaro, Hiroshige and many other historical artists’ work were available.  I saw one antique Ukiyo-e that wrenched my heart, I wished I could have been able to buy it, it was so beautiful.  The low end of this show started around $1,500 – $2,000 USD for anything pre-Modern and easily went into five digits for higher valued works.  It is often a bit melancholy to be the starving artist drifting among The Art Collectors. Love and admiration of the art, sadly, has never been a currency I could hope to use for the purpose of exchange.

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