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Spitting Images.
Van Dyck and the Portrait Print in Antwerp. Featuring an intervention by Yoshihiro Suda

04.06.2015 to 18.10.2015

Directly upon returning to Antwerp after his journey to Italy in 1627, Anton van Dyck embarked on a set of 18 etchings in his own hand, which formed the basis for his well-known portrait series 'Iconography'. It is very likely that he was inspired by Ottavio Leoni, one of the leading portraitists in Rome, who was working at the time on a series of portrait engravings of famous personalities. Van Dyck's project soon evolved into an artistically ambitious business idea that could only be successfully implemented with the aid of the best engravers of the city of Antwerp. The series went on to be published by numerous publishers well after Van Dyck's death.

The portrait prints, mostly of living, well-known politicians, generals, scholars, and artists were initially sold as loose sheets, but were subsequently also issued in bound form, in numerous editions from the middle of the seventeenth century onwards. Using the Kupferstichkabinett's own impressive collection of Van Dyck prints, the exhibition 'Spitting Images: Van Dyck and the Portrait Print' seeks to illustrate the various sources of inspiration, work processes, and evolution of the ambitious and creatively challenging endeavour. The portraits are especially captivating for their mimetic quality, their variety, and masterful execution.

The exhibition also features an intervention by the Japanese artist Yoshihiro Suda (b. 1969). In his piece, Suda pays homage to the Flemish painter Jan Brueghel the Elder, who is best-known for his flower paintings. In front of Anton van Dyck’s portrait print of Brueghel, made around 1630, Suda has placed a hyper-realistic carved wooden sculpture of a coloured petal. The petal is inspired by a tulip seen in a still life of flowers by Brueghel, on display in the Gemäldegalerie in gallery 9. We wish to thank the Loock gallery in Berlin for their cooperation on the intervention. Loock is currently holding a solo exhibition of the artist’s work, on show until 5 September.

A 'cabinet show' presented by the Kupferstichkabinett in the Gemäldegalerie

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