DIA offers ‘500 Years of Imaginary Prints’Written by Joseph Schafer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mankind is fascinated with its most mysterious and amazing trait: imagination. We’ve sent probes beyond the outer limits of our solar system, but still know more about outer space than the space between our ears. Sept. 8 through Jan. 12, the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) will offer the Midwest a rare glimpse into the minds of some of history’s most creative individuals with their new exhibit “500 Years of Imaginary Prints.”
Nancy Sojka, DIA curator of prints, drawings and photographs, said the exhibit is “a celebration of the life of the mind. The prints are ideas that pop out of someone’s subconscious.”
Some prints are abstract flights of fancy, some are dreams and some are legends. Many of the artists themselves are now legends: Pablo Picasso, Francisco de Goya, Salvador Dalí and M.C. Escher. Even if visitors don’t know the names of all these pieces, they will be familiar because these images have been re-interpreted many times — the work of M.C. Escher, for example, inspired parts of Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.” Sojka herself was inspired to make the exhibit in part by the work of Canaletto, who mixed gothic ruins with roman arches in his prints. Caneletto’s willingness to mix architectural elements birthed the exhibit’s tagline: “if you can think it, if you can dream it, then you can draw it.”
However, inspiration isn’t always pretty; it can be a frightening thing. The exhibit will be a scary experience at times — one of Sojka’s other inspirations was Fuseli’s “The Nightmare,” and the first piece in the exhibit will be Albrecht Dürer’s “The Four Horsemen.” Another standout, Odilon Redon’s “Temptation of St. Anthony,” is notable for its flying eyeballs.
“The exhibit is full of monsters,” Sojka says. “There is a chaotic, dark, swirling quality, a compositional characteristic, which is interesting given that the show is about fantasy and imagination.” “500 Years … ” sounds like a great date idea for October when the leaves turn orange and Halloween is in the air.
The exhibit will feature 136 prints, some by artists closer to us in time and space than the museum’s elder European statesmen. Susan Campbell printed the most recent work in the exhibit, the eerie and abstract “Aerial #3,” in 1999.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re Picasso,” Sojka says. “All kinds of art can mix with other art.”
Sojka said the exhibit will be relevant to everyone who sees it today, even if many of the pieces are hundreds of years old.
“Something subliminal is going on with the uncertainties of these times — the world’s been shaken up this whole decade. We live in an uncertain time, so it’s time to look at our imaginations. Why imaginary prints? Interpretation. Thoughts can be manipulated in very different ways, be it on canvas or pieces of paper. This is relevant and has been relevant since the creation of paper.”
Hopefully at least one visitor will walk out of the exhibit with enough inspiration and fascination to explore their own imaginary landscape and produce new art to rival the masters on display.
Tags: Detroit Institute of Art