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Escaping The Ordinary: Artistic Imagination In Early Modern Prints

The works in this exhibition celebrate artists who explored creative narratives and distant lands, inviting a brief suspension of reality in favor of artistic fantasy. They used printmaking’s unique qualities—including its mutability, intimacy, and serial capabilities—to innovate in the expression of mythological, religious, social, and political ideas.

These artists, at work during the first three centuries of printmaking in Europe, included Dürer, Rembrandt, Piranesi, Canaletto, Tiepolo, and Goya. They used a range of techniques—woodcut, engraving, etching, mezzotint, aquatint, and others—to explore the unfamiliar and strange. Some prints, like Dürer’s Apocalypse, gave visual form to contemporary anxieties about the end of the world. Others, such as Canaletto’s fantastic views of Venice or Piranesi’s of Rome, enhanced familiar cityscapes with caprice, heightened drama and anachronism.

Escaping the Ordinary offers a glimpse into the inner workings of the minds of these great printmakers as they eschewed everyday surroundings for exotic costumes, landscapes, and creatures.

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