30 August 2016 | 13 °C

Woodcut Renaissance Impressions At Royal Academy

Woodcut Renaissance Impressions At Royal Academy
Hans Burgkmair the Elder
 St George and the Dragon, c. 1508-10
 Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from two blocks, the tone block in beige, 
 32 x 22.5 cm
 Collection Georg Baselitz
 Photo Albertina, Vienna
Hans Burgkmair the Elder St George and the Dragon, c. 1508-10 Collection Georg Baselitz Photo Albertina, Vienna
Hendrick Goltzius
 Hercules Killing Cacus, 1588
 Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks, the tone blocks in yellow and green, 41.1 x 33.3 cm
 Collection Georg Baselitz
 Photo Albertina, Vienna
Hendrick Goltzius Hercules Killing Cacus, 1588 Collection Georg Baselitz Photo Albertina, Vienna
Andrea Andreani, after Giambologna
 Rape of a Sabine Woman, 1584
 Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from four blocks, the tone blocks in brown, 
 44.7 x 20.9 cm
 Collection Georg Baselitz
 Photo Albertina, Vienna
Andrea Andreani, after Giambologna Rape of a Sabine Woman, 1584 Collection Georg Baselitz Photo Albertina, Vienna
 Domenico Beccafumi
 St Philip, c. 1544-47
 Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks, the tone blocks in grey and blue, 39.6 x 20.9 cm
 Albertina, Vienna
 Photo Albertina, Vienna
Domenico Beccafumi St Philip, c. 1544-47 Albertina, Vienna Photo Albertina, Vienna
Ugo da Carpi
 Diogenes, early sixteenth century
 Chiaroscuro woodcut; four blocks (green and blue); first state
 47.8 x 34.3 cm
 Private Collection
 Photo Albertina, Vienna
Ugo da Carpi Diogenes, early sixteenth century Private Collection Photo Albertina, Vienna
Hendrick Goltzius
 Bacchus, c. 1589-90
 Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from two blocks, the tone block in light brown, 
 23.8 x 14.3 cm
 Collection Georg Baselitz
 Photo Albertina, Vienna
Hendrick Goltzius Bacchus, c. 1589-90 Collection Georg Baselitz Photo Albertina, Vienna

When you think woodcuts, the artist that springs to mind is Albrecht Durer for famous works like Melancholia and the Apocalypse series. But the medium was practised by many other artists and this exhibition brings together two collections to show that many Italian artists also created woodcuts.

The technique of producing a woodcut may be seen as halfway between creating a print and carving a sculpture, and videos in this exhibition truly bring home how difficult this process can be. When viewing the works, this knowledge makes them appear all the more remarkable given the level of detail in some of the pieces.

The diversity on show is impressive, from the intricately detailed suits of armour of a knight on horseback by Hans Burgkmair to the energy in Niccolo Vincentino's Hercules wrestling with the Nemean lion. Andrea Andreani's Triumph of Caesar has the look of a tapestry while many of Ugo da Carpi's works are replete with multiple characters creating a hectic scene.

There are over 150 woodcuts on display yet it never feels like any pieces have been included to fill the space, and the exhibition does a great job of highlighting the differences in style and the development of this technique in both Italy and Germany. The only downside is that often the exhibition focuses too much on the technique used to create each work rather than drawing attention to what is represented in each piece.

Renaissance Impressions: Chiaroscuro woodcuts from the collections of Georg Baselitz and the Albertina, Vienna is on at The Royal Academy of Arts from 15 March until 8 June. Tickets are £10 for adults, concessions available.

Also on at the Royal Academy is the sensational architecture of Sensing Spaces, the prints of Norman Stevens and the student art of the Interim Projects.

Last Updated 16 July 2015

Tabish Khan

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