July 8, 2011

Exhibition review: Renaissance Prints in Daily Life

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 6:31 pm

photo © Art Institute of Chicago

I stopped by the Art Institute of Chicago today for a quick visit and stumbled upon a wonderful exhibit: Altered and Adorned: Using Renaissance Prints in Daily Life.

Most of us are used to seeing old woodcuts and engravings in books and on museum walls. But back when they were created (1500-1600s), Renaissance prints were sometimes used rather mundanely in daily life.

A few standout examples:

  • Prints adhered to wooden storage boxes—something you may still see today (see example at right)
  • Prints used as wall coverings (instead of the more costly tapestries of that time)
  • A “scrapbook” of engravings, woodcuts, etchings and aquatints pasted into a journal
  • Pattern books for needlework and amateur artists—similar to the Dover Art Books you find today
  • Compass and sundial decorated with woodcut prints
  • Prints used as playing cards—a great example is the Italian tarocchi deck, which you can still buy today in Florence
  • Anatomy flap prints: prints showing the human anatomy with removable, cut-out organs—a fabulous precursor to today’s pop-up books and paper cutting art

The exhibition runs through Sunday (July 10) and is worth a visit!