Campus Currents

Che Bellezza!
Rare Italian prints go on display

Giuseppe Scolari PLAYFUL AND DARING: This engraving by Giuseppe Scolari (Italian, active 1592-1607), will be on exhibit at the UNH Art Gallery from Sept. 6 to Oct. 18.

BEFITTING THE ROLE of a university museum, the UNH Art Gallery's fall exhibition, "The Simple Art: Printed Images in an Age of Magnificence," promises to enlighten those who don't know much about 16th-century Italian printmaking—and even those who do. The 64 seldom-seen prints highlight the breadth of Renaissance prints and dispel false notions of the early Italian printmakers as imitators, says curator Patricia Emison, an associate professor of art history.

"Italian Renaissance prints are a vast uncharted territory in the history of art," says Emison. "There's so much initiative and inventiveness in prints. They were just engraving in metal or wood, so they could follow their whims." The prints depict scenes of hunting and fishing and religious subjects and also contain puzzling allegories. She describes one such bizarre print in which a stream of naked men flanked by fantastical goatlike creatures march through the night toward a witches' Sabbath. "Prints tended to be less centered on the heroic ideal than paintings," she explains. "They're more frivolous sometimes, more playful, more daring."

Gallery director Vicki Wright negotiated loan agreements with museums at Harvard, Yale, Wesleyan and other colleges, and arranged shipping, photography and insurance for each print. Two art-fellowship students will assist in the exhibition's installation. They'll learn to unpack and carefully document the condition of each fragile print; they'll move, prepare and paint gallery walls with complementary colors, and they'll assist with the hanging and lighting of the works. "The whole installation is a good learning experience for our students," she says.

Emison hopes artists and lay people alike will be enticed to enter this door into the Italian Renaissance. "I'm convinced that no one can go through this exhibition and feel bored," she says.

 Easy to print version

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