The RISD Museum’s nifty new printmaking exhibition covers more than half a millennium, from a fifteenth century Biblical engraving to a 2017 etching by the British artist Glenn Brown. The format lends itself to moody, shadowy themes, and there’s plenty of gloom represented, whether it’s Christ being removed from the cross or Wendy sewing Peter Pan’s shadow back on. Arranged by technique, the exhibit pairs pieces from different eras, demonstrating how printmakers often work off one another’s ideas. Rembrandt’s eerie trees are paired with a reproduction, Goya’s men in sacks are given new context with Enrique Chigoya’s mushroom cloud, and other pairings are technique-driven, like Claude Mellan’s seventeen-century Death of Adonis with Andrew Raftery’s 2008 scene of people touring a suburban open house. There are some real gems in here, including the rear view of Robert Austin’s praying woman and Frank Brangwyn’s spooky windmill etching, which is wonderfully heavy-handed in comparison to the smaller, more delicate windmills nearby.
pictured: Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes A Way of Flying (Modo de volar) / Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way (Donde hay ganas hay maña), 1816–1824, printed 1864