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Contemporary engraving in dialog with the past at the Snite Museum of Art
Robert Nanteuil (French, 1623–1678), Giles Rousselet (French, 1610–1686), and Anton Würth (German, b. 1957), Portrait of Louis XIV Surrounded by an Allegorical Composition of 1667, together with N–Predella III, 2012, engraving. Photo: Courtesy of C. G. Boerner, New York.
NOTER DAME, IND.- German printmaker and book artist Anton Würth (b. 1957) engages in an artistic dialog with the virtuoso French seventeenth-­‐century portrait engraver Robert Nanteuil, whose masterpiece Portrait of Louis XIV Surrounded by an Allegorical Composition forms the basis for the present exhibition.

Ornament Doesn’t Need Little Flowers: Anton Würth and Engraving in the 21st Century will be on view at the Snite Museum of Art from January 12 through March 16, 2014. Because of its laborious nature, engraving is practiced by only a very few contemporary artists. Würth is one of them.

Reclaiming the lower margin of Nanteuil’s image where Nanteuil’s original dedication is missing, Würth created a new “predella”—a term normally used in conjunction with altarpieces, suggesting that the subject of the portrait was meant to be worshipped—as an homage to the master. In the process, he gathered together maxims published by Nanteuil and responded to them with his own principles of ornament and design.

In a reprise of an exhibition held at Pocket Utopia in New York in 2012 and co-­‐organized with Armin Kunz of C. G. Boerner, New York, this exhibition juxtaposes twelve of Würth’s designs with seventeenth-­‐century portrait engravings from the Snite Museum of Art’s collection to help make the point that ornament is neither marginal nor subordinate. The engraved line achieves its autonomy under Würth’s steady hand, keen mind, and whimsical approach.

Würth studied in Augsburg, Germany, and Urbino, Italy, and has exhibited at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and The Print Center in Philadelphia, among many other museums and libraries around the world. His work is included in the permanent collections of the British Museum, London, the Albertina in Vienna, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut.

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