Published: February 11, 2016
STANFORD, CALIF. — More than 180 works, selected from one of the most extensive private collections of Mannerist prints in the world, epitomize the Sixteenth Century’s extravagant and sophisticated style. “Myth, Allegory and Faith: The Kirk Edward Long Collection of Mannerist Prints” reveals the scope and depth of this exemplary collection for the first time. The exhibition of engravings, etchings, woodcuts and chiaroscuro woodcuts by renowned artists and famous printmakers of the era continues through June 20.
The exhibition familiarizes visitors with the development of the Mannerist style in Italy, traces its dissemination through Europe, shows its adaptation for both secular and religious purposes and follows its eventual transformation into the baroque style at the end of the century. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Cantor Arts Center is co-publishing an illustrated catalog of Long’s entire collection of 700 works with essays by ten scholars and 146 entries discussing individual works and suites.
“We are delighted that the Cantor has had a long and fruitful collaboration with such an astute and dedicated collector, resulting in this beautiful exhibition and the enlightening publication cataloging Mr Long’s complete holdings of Sixteenth Century prints,” said Connie Wolf, the John and Jill Freidenrich director.
“These works provide extraordinary opportunities for new and important scholarship, allow for unique interdisciplinary perspectives on this dynamic moment in history and support exciting collaborations with students and faculty. The exhibition and the accompanying publication are invaluable to scholars of the period as well as anyone interested in art and history. This exhibition shows what a dedicated scholar-collector can accomplish, and the catalogue shares new knowledge of an important period in art history.”
The exhibition begins with Mannerism’s primary sources, a fascination with classical antiquity and the overwhelming influence of Michelangelo. Curated by Bernard Barryte, the Cantor’s curator of European art, the exhibition is organized by region, tracing the style’s path from Florence, Rome and Central Italy to Venice and the rest of Europe. One section illuminates the way in which Mannerism was transformed in the Low Countries, where the Italianate artist Maarten van Heemskerck was an important innovator and where Hendrick Goltzius and his circle were responsible for the extraordinary flowering of the style in Haarlem during the last decades of the Sixteenth Century.
Another portion of works illustrate Mannerism’s French variant. Known as the School of Fontainebleau, it was developed by Rosso Fiorentino and Francesco Primaticcio, Italian artists imported by King François I to decorate his palace at Fontainebleau in the most opulent and fashionable style.
The exhibition concludes with works that demonstrate the shift away from the artifice of the Mannerist aesthetic. Included are prints by Annibale Carracci, pioneer of a new naturalism that was influenced in part by the impetus of the Counter-Reformation and the dictates of the Council of Trent, which encouraged artists to create clearer and more emotionally engaging images to counteract the impact of Protestantism and win new converts.
Throughout the exhibition, visitors can see the accomplishments of the print designers Raphael, Giulio Romano and Maarten van Heemskerck — as well as the virtuosity of printmakers Marcantonio Raimondi, Ugo da Carpi, Giorgio Ghisi, Cornelis Cort and Hendrick Goltzius. Some images may be familiar, but many rare works by artists of less renown are also on view.
Long has spent his life collecting art. He first focused on the Symbolists and Surrealists, both of whom had found inspiration in Mannerism. Following the Symbolist and Surrealist artists’ gaze back to Sixteenth Century Mannerism, Long acquired several exemplary prints and in 2003 began collaborating with Barryte. The goal was to create a comprehensive collection focused on Mannerist prints that would stimulate ongoing research.
Representing 15 years of attentive effort, Long’s collection now numbers more than 700 sheets and is among the most extensive repositories of this material in private hands. The sampling of the works featured in this exhibit is representative of the collection, illustrating in graphic form the sources, evolution and diffusion of what art historian John Shearman called “the stylish style.”
A fully illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition, co-published by Silvana Editoriale, Milan, featuring an illustrated checklist of the entire Long collection.
The Cantor Arts Center is on the Stanford campus off Palm Drive at Museum Way.
For additional information, www.museum.stanford.edu or 650-723-4177.
All images lent by Kirk Edward Long.
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