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In colour! Chiaroscuro woodcuts of the Renaissance on view at the Albertina in Vienna
Ugo da Carpi, Der wunderbare Fischzug. Albertina, Wien.

VIENNA.- In this exhibit, around 220 works from the private collection of the painter Georg Baselitz and from the Albertina impressively demonstrate the origins and artistic development of the chiaroscuro woodcut in the 16th century. Especially beautiful and rare, in some cases unique prints will be shown.

First examples of the printing process in which the black line plate is supplemented by one or more colour plates originate from Lucas Cranach and Hans Burgkmair, who worked together with the carver Jost de Negker. The artists from the circle around Dürer, including Hans Baldung Grien, Hans Sebald Beham and Hans Wechtlin, as well as masters such as Albrecht Altdorfer, quickly took up the new process, with which unique colour effects could be achieved in printed graphics.

Only a few years after its invention in Germany, the first masterpieces of the chiaroscuro woodcut were created in Italy by Ugo da Carpi. Although he falsely claimed to have invented the new technique, he was in fact responsible for its revolutionary future development, insofar as he successively dispensed with the black line plate and created the composition from colour plates with irregularly carved colour fields. In this way, the representation takes on a painterly character, as if it were modelled by light and colour. His successors, Antonio da Trento and Niccolò Vicentino, further developed the new achievements and influenced other carvers, extending to Andrea Andreani, who set new standards in this technique with his in some cases extremely large formats.

Extraordinary solutions were presented by the Sienese artist Beccafumi, who combined copperplate engraving with the colour woodcut in several of his fascinating works. Besides Germany, the new technical possibilities of the colour woodcut were also recognised in the Netherlands, where they were refined by their most important representative, Hendrik Goltzius.

Half of the works shown in the exhibit originate from the holdings of the museum and half from the collection of the well-known German contemporary artist Georg Baselitz, to whom the Albertina is simultaneously dedicating a solo exhibit.

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