A century ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art established its Department of Prints under the stewardship of William M. Ivins (1881-1961). In commemoration, the museum will soon launch an exhibition aimed at telling the story of how this world-renowned collection evolved.
From its very beginnings, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Prints has been cleverly, if not masterfully, composed and organized. Much like a library, the department holds a vast number of prints that display the full range and history of the medium. Opening January 25 and on view through May 22, “The Power of Prints” will feature some of the biggest names in art history, including James McNeill Whistler, Henri de ToulouseLautrec, Mary Cassatt, Rembrandt van Rijn, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Albrecht Dürer, Andrea Mantegna, and Edward Hopper — to name just a few.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, “A Giant Seated in a Landscape,” 1818, print, (c) MET 2016

The museum writes, “Brilliantly mixing the exceptional and everyday, Ivins and [Ivins associate A. Hyatt] Mayor amassed a collection of hundreds of thousands of prints that is both encyclopedic in its scope and studied in its many areas of focus. Ivins’ and Mayor’s prescient understanding of the value of printed works across a wide spectrum, and the intellectual framework from which their collecting practice arose, transformed the field of prints by broadening its purview beyond aesthetic, formal, and technical aspects and by asking new questions about the function of works of art, their historical and cultural context, and their active role as both containers and purveyors of information.”

Mary Cassatt, “The Letter,” ca. 1890-1891, print, (c) MET 2016

In addition to the exhibition, a fully illustrated catalogue will be available along with a host of educational programs. Events include “a Friday Focus lecture on January 29; a MetFridays Gallery Event on February 19 during which visitors can enjoy interactive gallery chats, art making, and a Drop-in Drawing class; a three-session Studio Workshop focusing on drypoint and lithography; a Met Escapes for visitors with dementia and their care partners on February 24; a Sunday at the Met program on April 3; and a Seeing Through Drawing for adults who are blind or partially sighted on May 14.”
“The Power of Prints” opens on January 26 and will be on view through May 22.
To learn more, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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