Whistler prints at EPMA

While Sunday brought the opening of the largest ever retrospective of beloved local artist Manuel Acosta, it also marked the opening of a smaller but extremely satisfying exhibition of engravings by James Macneill Whistler in the Dewitter gallery also on the second floor of the museum.

For those of us who know Whistler mainly from his Study in black and grey aka Whistler’ mother, these prints come as something of an unexpected treat. In his day, Whistler achieved more recognition for his prints than for his oils, and here one can see why. It is a small representation but manages to trace his trajectory from highly realistic detailed engravings to his adoption of a looser style evoking image through volume and form. 

The prints come from the Richard L Shorkey collection at the Art Museum of the Southeast in Beaumont, Texas and should not be missed. The exhibition is free.

While looking at the Whistler prints upstairs, one should also take time to look at the exhibition downstairs entitled Bestiario and Nahuales, by Arceo Press in Chicago. Rene Arceo sent out 2 sheets of paper to 20 artists from all over the world, and asked them to make a print on the theme of bestiario and Nahuale.

Of course, bestiario has been a well-known subject since the Middle Ages where it was often used to symbolize certain Christian themes.  Nahuales come from Mayan culture and, to perhaps oversimplify, represent a sort of spirit world figure. Here we have contemporary artists playing with, and mixing,  these two themes from profoundly different cultures. Simply in terms of the art of engraving they are interesting, but of course it is enlightening to see how these themes are interpreted-david sokolec

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