In Your Dreams: 500 Years of Imaginary Prints, the current special exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts, is an exhibit not to be missed. The exhibit features 120 of the most important prints of the last half millenium, most of them from the museum’s own collection. Included in the exhibit are works by Durer, Picasso, Piranesi, Chagall, Goya, and Miro, as well as works from modern artists.
One of the most celebrated of the prints shown is Albrecht Durer’s “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, a 1498 woodcut which was one of a series of 15 illustrations Durer created of the Book of Revelations. The work powerfully portrays the Four Horsemen – Death, Famine, War, and Plague – as they sweep across the world destroying all in their path. The Horsemen symbolize War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death
Also exhibited is the complete set of Prisons by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, an 18th Century Italian engraver. The series of 16 prints shows a nightmare vision of Gothic halls, empty and tortured architecture, and grotesque machinery.
The complete set of Francesco de Goya’s Los Proverbios, first published in 1864, is also on display. This set of etchings was probably produced between 1815 and 1824, and depicts a nightmare world filled with winged creatures that prey upon the innocent. The series is also sometimes called Los Disparates.
Not all is gloom and doom in the museum’s exhibition, however. Marc Chagall’s 1948 lithograph, “Then the Old Woman Mounted on the Ifrit’s Back, Taking her Daughter Behind Her” depicts a fanciful world, and is based on a tale from the Arabian Nights.
The late 19th century series, The Temptation of St. Anthony, by Odilon Redon, depicts is a series of lithographs illustrating Gustave Flaubert’s book. The subject matter is the series of temptations faced by the Egyptian saint, Anthony the Great, during a desert pilgrimage. Redon is considered a forerunner of the Surrealists and the Dada movement.
The Dreams and Lie of Franco, also on display, is a series of etchings by Pablo Picasso. The etchings comprise a series of cartoons depicting the horrors of the Spanish Civil War era, and were originally intended as a series of postcards to raise money for the Spanish Republican Government.
Also on display in this exhibition are works by such modern artists as Chilean Robert Matta, and Detroit’s own Robert Darabos and Susan Goethel Campbell.
The exhibit will run until January 2, 2011. There is no separate admission for the exhibit, but is included with general museum admission, which is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for youths age 6 to 17. Admission is free for children age 5 and younger, DIA members, and for Detroit residents on Fridays only. Please see the Detroit Institute of Arts website, www.dia.org, or call 313-833-7900 for further information, and for days and hours of operation. (The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.)
Sources: www.dia.org, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/19.73.209, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piranesi, http://www.pomona.edu/museum/collections/goya/proverbios.shtml, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dream_and_Lie_of_Franco, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1986.1224.1