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Rubens and His Printmakers at the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Center, July 5–September 24, 2006

June 23, 2006

LOS ANGELES—At the height of his career, Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) employed a small army of printmakers to reproduce his works, thereby increasing his reach and fame throughout Europe.  Rubens' close collaboration with these artists and their experiments in printmaking is the subject of a new exhibition Rubens and His Printmakers, at the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Center, July 5–September 24, 2006.

Rubens' strict control of the reproductive process resulted in exceptionally expressive images that boldly translated the essence of the master's works.  The innovative techniques developed to evoke the tonal qualities of Rubens' style contributed significantly to the advancement of printmaking - and were practiced well into the 19th century.  After Rubens' death in 1640, his printmakers continued to reproduce his works, as did numerous other artists and print publishers who recognized the market for his imagery.

The exhibition brings together approximately seven drawings from the holdings of the J. Paul Getty Museum and seventeen prints from the special collections of the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute.  Works from other collections around the country (including the Pierpont Morgan Library, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Huntington Library), are also shown. The key theme of collaboration explored in Rubens and His Printmakers complements the Premiere Presentation Rubens and Brueghel: A Working Friendship, which runs concurrently at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center.

Frustrated by unauthorized copies of his work, Rubens obtained his first privilege, or legal authority to copyright his images, in 1619. He then hired printmakers to translate his compositions into engravings and woodcuts.  Rubens saw the process of reproducing his works as one involving both collaboration and control.  While he closely supervised the copying of his work, he encouraged his artists to develop new methods to reproduce the subtleties of his style. Rubens avoided artists who might impose their own styles on the reproductions.

Rubens worked with and then rejected well-known printmakers of his time, preferring instead to hire young artists like Lucas Vorsterman, who was the first printmaker to work extensively with Rubens.  Vorsterman produced a series of highly regarded reproductive engravings between 1618 and 1622 before ending the collaboration abruptly over creative differences.  His star pupil, Paulus Pontius, replaced him in Rubens’ workshop.  Pontius was one of Rubens’ most prolific printmakers, cutting the plates for scores of reproductive prints until the master’s death.  His 1630 print for Rubens’ painting The Head of Cyrus Brought to Queen Tomyris was so successful that it led to the composition being reproduced as a tabletop, needlework pictures, a silver platter, and wooden panels. Other collaborators whose work is featured in the exhibition include Schelte Bolswert, who is known for reproducing Rubens' landscapes and devotional images.

Rubens' work with Christoffel Jegher revived the art of the woodcut, a printmaking technique that had been relegated to cheap book illustrations. Jegher's prints capture the energy and rich, dark tonality that characterized Rubens' late style during the 1630s.  Rubens also worked with a few etchers, including Pieter Soutman, who published some of Rubens' prints. Jonas Suyderhoef, a student of Soutman, developed a meticulous style of descriptive etching that vividly conveyed the textures and qualities of light and shade in Rubens' works.

Rubens and His Printmakers is curated by Stephanie Schrader, assistant curator, department of drawings, the J. Paul Getty Museum; and Louis Marchesano, collections curator, department of prints and drawings, the Getty Research Institute.

All events are free unless otherwise noted. Seating reservations are required. For reservations and information, please call 310-440-7300 or visit Tickets are available on-site or by phone.

From Drawings and Oil into Print: Rubens' Retouched Drawings and Oil Sketches Preparatory for Prints
Michiel Plomp, chief curator, Teylers Museum, Haarlem, the Netherlands, explores how Rubens made prints after his most successful paintings in order to protect his work from rivals, expand his network of patrons, and increase his fame. Plomp's lecture closely follows the translation of the compositions of original altarpieces to smaller prints, elucidating a fascinating aspect of Rubens' ingenuity.
Thursday, July 6, 7:00 p.m., Museum Lecture Hall, the Getty Center.

Rubens in New Spain (Mexico): The Directions of Influence
Clara Bargellini, professor of art history, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, discusses how indigenous and European artists in Mexico used prints by Rubens as models for religious paintings. Bargellini assesses the impact of Rubens on the arts of colonial Mexico in artistic as well as cultural-religious terms. Following the presentation, Artemio Rodriguez, founder of La Mano Press in Los Angeles, discusses contemporary work by graphic artists in Mexico and Los Angeles.
Thursday, August 17, 7:00 p.m., Harold M. Williams Auditorium, the Getty Center.

Studio Course
The Printed Image
Join artist Jennifer Anderson and artist and Getty Museum educator Jaime Ursic for this two-part printmaking workshop. Participants will learn basic techniques for intaglio printing including plate preparation, line and mark-making, and inking techniques, and will pull their own print. Course fee: $65; $50 students. Open to 25 participants.
Tuesdays, July 11 and 18; repeats July 25 and August 1, 22 and 29; 1:00–5:00 p.m., Museum Studios, the Getty Center.
Artist-at-Work Demonstration
Drop by as artist Jennifer Anderson demonstrates printmaking materials and techniques, with a focus on etching and engraving.
Every Thursday and Sunday, June 15–July 30, 1:00-2:00 p.m. (creating plates),  2:00-3:00 p.m. (printing plates), Museum Courtyard, the Getty Center.

Curator’s Gallery Talks
Stephanie Schrader, assistant curator of drawings, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and Louis Marchesano, collections curator, the Getty Research Institute, lead a gallery talk on the exhibition. Meet under the stairs in the Museum Entrance Hall.
Tuesdays, July 11 & 18, 2:30 p.m., Museum Galleries, the Getty Center.

Point-of-View Talks
Ed Hamilton, Tamarind master printer and cofounder of Hamilton Press, has worked with notable contemporary artists including Ed Ruscha, George Herms, Bruce Nauman, and Raymond Pettibon.  Join Hamilton as he explores issues of artistic collaboration and printmaking in conjunction with the exhibition.
Sign up at the Museum Information Desk beginning at 3:00 p.m.
Friday, August 4, 4:30 and 6:00 p.m., Museum Galleries, the Getty Center.

Rubens and Brueghel: A Working Friendship
At the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Center, July 5–September 24, 2006
Between about 1598 and 1625, Antwerp's most eminent painters, Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder, jointly produced sophisticated, beautiful works that transformed the Flemish tradition of painting. This exhibition brings together a dozen of their collaborations for the first time, as well as important efforts with other eminent Flemish contemporaries, exploring the long, close friendship of Rubens and Brueghel, and the fruitful partnership that resulted. The exhibition draws on the expertise of paintings conservators whose close technical examination of the Getty's Return from War: Mars Disarmed by Venus and other works has unearthed new information regarding this extraordinarily rare artistic collaboration. Co-organized by the Getty and the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, the exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue and travels to The Hague after its showing at the Getty Center.

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Miranda Carroll
Getty Communications Dept.

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