The High Museum of Art’s latest exhibition features six printmakers who tell tales with their art in varied ways.
Feb. 22 through May 3, the Midtown venue will present “The Plot Thickens: Storytelling in European Print Series,” an exhibition with six series of illustrations spotlighting three different techniques: lithography, etching and woodcut.
“We have represented in this exhibition some of the great masters of printmaking,” said Claudia Einecke, the High’s curator of European art and curator of the exhibition.
The exhibition includes two sets of lithographs: “Hamlet” by Eugène Delacroix and “King Lear” by Oskar Kokoschka, three series of etchings: “Deadly Sins” by James Ensor, “The Glove” by Max Klinger and “The Prodigal Son” by James Tissot and one set of woodcut prints: “Die Siebenhardenbeliebung” by Hans Grohs. They were draw between 1834 and 1963.
“In addition to the individual stories told, the exhibition explores different narrative strategies, considers relationships between style and story and elucidates different printmaking techniques,” a summary of the exhibition stated in part.
Einecke said the six series of illustrations differ in multiple ways. While “Hamlet” and “King Lear” are based on Shakespeare’s play by the same names and “Deadly Sins” and “The Prodigal Son” have religious and/or Biblical roots, “The Glove” and “Die Siebenhardenbeliebung” have no text on which they’re based.
“The series by James Tissot to illustrate ‘The Prodigal Son’ is from the Bible, but the series by Max Klinger called ‘Ein Handschuh’ (‘The Glove’ in English) had no text on which it is based. It was invented by the artist completely on a pictorial story,” Einecke said.
She said “The Glove” is random in how the first drawing is unrelated to the next one except for the existences of a glove.
“We don’t know what the plot is going to be from the first image to the second to the third,” Einecke said. “It is not very easy to see it as a story, but it’s more like a series of a dream sequence. You go from one scene to a completely different one. In a dream it makes sense, but there is no real explanation for why it changed or how it changed. Yet if we look at that print series, we automatically try to make a connection between the images, to give a bit of chronological (order).
But, she added, there is a strategy to the illustrations.
“With ‘King Lear,’ at least 16 illustrations are made with a print version of the play,” Einecke said, adding they were designed to be embedded throughout a text version of the play.
The curator said “The Plot Thickens” will be one of the last times individuals can view these illustrations since they are so fragile they’re seldom displayed.
“They are shown rarely and for a short period of time because exposure to light makes the paper deteriorate,” Einecke said. “We want the museum to preserve them for hundreds of years.”
Admittance to the exhibition is included with general admission tickets to the High, which are $14.50 for nonmembers and free for members. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.high.org.