The selection includes, amongst other things, graphic sheets from some of the biggest names in world art:
Francisco Goya (1746-1828) worked within all the traditional genres of the visual arts. He had an established official career, including as court painter, but the critical side of his art was given free reins in the graphic series Los Caprichos (The Whims); 80 etchings and aquatints created between 1793 and 1799.
Due to the satirical content of the series, Goya feared that the Inquisition would destroy the remaining prints and printing plates, so he donated them to the king. Today, Los Caprichos occupies a central place in art history as one of Goya’s principal works, revealing at the same time the artist’s deep human and social commitment.
The illustrations by Marc Chagall (1887-1985) for the novel Dead Souls (1842) by the great Russian author Gogol bear witness to the artist’s narrative pictorial style. Even without knowing the novel, you can experience the poetry of these light, allusive and imaginative etchings of 1920s Russian folk life.
Chagall’s art extended deep into Russia, where he himself grew up. At the same time, it also bears the influence of great European art: both classical art, such as Rembrandt, and the modern innovations that he experienced at first hand as a young man during his long period of residence in Paris. Chagall’s etched illustrations from the 1930s for the
Old Testament can also be seen.
In the collection we also find the great, colourful series Jazz by Henri Matisse (1869-1954); one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. These are works of the artist’s old age that have their origin in his work with paper cut-outs in the 1940s. The title of the series reflects Matisse’s poetic play with the rhythms of colour and form, using a collection of motifs that he drew from, amongst other places, the plant life that he saw during a Pacific trip, and the world of the circus: the knife thrower and the trapeze artists. The series encompasses both lyrical and violently dramatic aspects, and is today regarded as a principal work of graphic art.
A selection of engravings from the famous Vollard Suite by Picasso (1881-1973) is also part of the museum's collection. The starting-point for these was simple model studies and the sculptor’s studio. From this, a number of love scenes and bullfighting motifs arise in an imaginative way. The graphic sheets reveal Picasso’s excellence as an artist, and, as with Matisse, the content ranges from the classical and calm to the most violent drama. There are large variations in technique, and Picasso’s mastery of the most diverse graphical techniques is clear.
Alberto Giacometti (1902-1966) is represented by a number of the lithographs that he created between 1957 and 1962 for the monumental book Paris Sans Fin (Paris Without End). The motifs are drawn from the everyday world of Parisians: ordinary streets, houses and cafes. With a soft line that outlines figures and objects and builds up space on the white paper, Giacometti’s draughtsmanship reveals the obsession and constant challenge that the city of Paris held for him – like one great declaration of love.
Among the modern European artists, the collection includes a triptych by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) which deforms the body in all its materiality and mutability – but with an almost explosive beauty.
Central Danish contemporary artists and tibetan block prints - a wide-spanned collection
Central Danish contemporary artists, for whom the graphic arts have functioned as a catalyst, are also represented. One of these is John Olsen (b. 1938), who captures the growth of nature in expressive engravings. In Olsen’s graphic work, the initial figurative expression gradually diminishes as the sense of space and size appears to dissolve. On the other hand, the expression achieves a sense of density at the same time as the cropping of the motifs and the choice of point of view begins to approximate nature itself.
Similar considerations apply to Inge Lise Westman (b. 1945), who also uses nature as an important source of inspiration in her graphic work, in an abstract gesture depicting the great in the small – and the small in the great.
Holstebro Kunstmuseum possesses the complete graphic collection of Peter Linde Busk (b. 1973), extending from his student days until the present day. A selection of these is displayed at the exhibition, demonstrating the artist’s continued processing of his motivic world and his experimental approach to the graphic media.
In the course of his career, Tal R (b. 1967) has used graphics in his own personal way. Although we know him best as a painter who unfolds imaginative stories on large canvases, graphics have always been a key element in Tal R’s artistic
production. Almost all the graphic techniques are applied: woodcut, linoleum printing, etching, lithography and sleeking – with sense of quality, humour and innovation in equal parts.
The collection also includes large graphic works by Martin Erik Andersen, as well as a number of Tibetan block prints made by monks in Tibetan monasteries – which also illustrates the wide span of the graphic collections at Holstebro Kunstmuseum.
Graphics as an art laboratory
The versatility and rich field of graphic art has allowed artists throughout the ages to experiment with pictorial conventions. Due to the possibilities for multiplication offered by the printing method, graphics are simultaneously democratic and dynamic in their nature. Although work with graphics is often spontaneous and requires allowing randomness to rule, the techniques demand great craftsmanship and precision, as well as in-depth knowledge of the almost alchemical realities that lead to the final graphic work.