L'Estampe originale: A Celebrated Album of Original Printmaking, 1893-95

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Cover for the second year of l'Estampe originale, 1894 Color Lithograph © Courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Arts
L'Estampe originale: A Celebrated Album of Original Printmaking, 1893-95

2400 Third Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
March 24th, 2012 - December 9th, 2012
Opening: March 24th, 2012 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

United States
888 642-2787
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10 AM-5 PM; Thursday 10 AM-9 PM; Sunday 11 AM-5 PM


Original printmaking faced an uncertain time in fin-de-siècle France. Popular tastes ran to reproductions of famous paintings, which commercial processes could print at low cost by the thousands. The taste for fine handmade prints seemed to belong to an earlier, less industrialized era. Yet the appeal of the print as an original work of art endured among artists who valued the expressive potential of printmaking and by connoisseurs and collectors who appreciated the nuanced visual language of the graphic arts.

Of the numerous attempts by artists, critics, and publishers to revitalize original printmaking, the lavishly produced series L'Estampe originale (The Original Print) was among the most successful. Between 1893 and 1895, French publisher André Marty commissioned 95 limited-edition prints in a range of mediums by both prominent and lesser known artists and illustrators. Among the contributors were Maurice Denis, Pierre Bonnard, Émile Bernard, Henri Rivière, Eugène Grasset, Félix Bracquemond, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jules Chéret, Paul Ranson, Camille Pissarro, Odilon Redon, Paul Sérusier, Eugène Carrière, Charles Shannon, Joseph Pennell, and many others. Besides restoring the status of the uniquely individual print?limited in number, signed by the artist, and expressive of immediate artistic concerns?Marty's project marks a confluence of contemporary trends and theories on art, from the visually appealing designs of Art Nouveau and Japonisme to the philosophical concerns of the Symbolists and Nabis. Marty's prescient print albums may be most famous, however, for their precocious use of color lithography. As this exhibition demonstrates, L'Estampe originale embodies an artistic fervor that is surprising even today.