NEWS | NOVEMBER 21. 2019
Collection of Graphics is one of the most traditional and most comprehensive collections of the museum. It is divided into two parts; a smaller collection of graphics from the 15th to 19th century and a larger one consisting of modern and contemporary graphics. By this exhibition, where the dividing mentioned above is used, too, the Olomouc Museum of Art continues its research and presentation of its core collections. Nevertheless, both exhibitions and accompanying publications still communicate with each other and let us discover new connections. The presentation of this collection in its whole time period displays and explains the vast range of different functions of graphics since the very beginning of its existence, and, moreover, it shows many various ways of how it has been approached.
Nowadays no one really doubts on the significance of graphics, nevertheless, it was not always as definite as it is now. It was often perceived mainly as a medium of reproduction, especially as a source of information on history, culture and art. Very soon, two new complementary levels of graphic print began their progress. The first and actually the original role of graphics is based on the ability to reproduce, to multiply the picture, and it presents the graphics particularly as a tool for spreading ideas, pictures and thoughts. Even though this fact was and still is the most significant, the same value has since the very beginning its second role, too: the artistic one, the exclusive and supremely authorial one. Both levels could freely meet, mingle and complement each other. The name of the exhibition focused on old graphics relates to interdependence of the picture making-of technology and the artistic purpose of the author. On the selected exhibits, you can observe the story of the graphics; its historical development and the diversity of its forms and functions: starting with woodcut illustrations from the 15th and 16th century (Michael Wolgemuth, Hans Brosamer, Jost Amman) and followed by virtuous copperplates by the renaissance and mannerist masters (Heinrich Aldegrever, Giorgio Ghisi, Cornelius Cort , Aegidius Sadeler, Hendrick Goltzius), wide range of possibilities and forms of baroque etchings (Pietro Testa, Salvator Rosa, Václav Hollar, Michael Rentz, Giovanni Battista Piranesi) to universality of lithography which dominated the graphics of the 19th century (Honoré Daumier, Antonín Mánes, Josef Führich). The topics include sacred and profane themes, mythology, allegory, history, architecture, landscape, portrait and genre and satiric prints.
Graphic art is a complex phenomenon whose significance transcends the borders of fine art and visual culture. It radically influences the way we think, learn, create, and share. It plays an integral part in scientific atlases, children’s books, the virtual spaces – and of course, in gallery collections. In recent years, the graphic way of seeing has been establishing itself outside its natural environment, and is starting to infringe upon or even directly colonise not only other media (painting, photography, film, etc.), but also the very means of our orientation in the world. Hence ”pangraphism“ – hence ”post-print“. It is not the aim of this publication to historicise this phenomenon, it does seem, however, that the spirit itself is and can be something like the internal aspiration of the medium. As a simple enumeration of personalities shows – Odilon Redon, James Ensor, Vojtěch Preissig, Max Švabinský, Josef Váchal, František Tichý, Jan Smetana, Bohuslav Reynek, Vladimír Boudník, Dalibor Chatrný, Zdeněk Sýkora, Ivan Picelj, Otto Piene, Rune Mields, Alena Kučerová, Adriena Šimotová, Rudolf Sikora, Jiří Lindovský, Daniel Fischer, Vojtěch Kovářík, Šárka Trčková – the spectrum of modern graphic art is immensely broad, and in every instance of exceptional interest. It also patently demonstrates the gradual transformation of the character and status of the (graphic) image itself. The all-inclusive aspect of its theory presupposes both historical and anthropological or psychological connotations. If we accept this, then we can apply the words of the American philosopher Alva Noë, who is rehabilitating the idea that art – i.e. a work of art – is a “strange tool” through which we return to ourselves. An attempt at this is also the exhibition of the collection of graphics of the Olomouc Museum of Art.