Wednesday, December 11, 2013

An Artist's Love of Venice

As we are in the last days of the exhibition, Reflections and Undercurrents: Ernest Roth and Printmaking in Venice, 1900-1945, I am beginning my parting thoughts about the exhibition moving on to another venue. How one is attracted to a piece of art is very personal. And since the works from this exhibition came from a private collection (as a promised gift to Dickinson College), the works acquired are very personal and are chosen for a variety of reasons:  adding a piece for fun, a rare find, or serves as a complementary piece to another work or artist in the collection. But there is a cohesiveness about this collection--the sort of "chain of command" from Whistler to Menpes and Bacher, to Roth and Arms, Mauroner and Brugnoli--the legacy.

Fabio Mauroner, Trattoria "La Vida" (Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio), 1924.
Etching. The Trout Gallery, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, 2011.42
One of the things that has struck me most is the artists' intimacy of the subject and the etched line. The delicate line is more than scratching out a depiction of a doorway, canal, or gondola. These works are labors of love. Favorite walkways and trattorias, like that of Fabio Maruoner's Trattoria "La Vida," are places the artists knew well. In spite of their need, commercial or otherwise, to create a unique view of a city well represented by a litany of artists over the centuries, their dedication to their love of Venice and their medium is foremost.

The influence of the artists looking at each others' work is revealed as one walks about the exhibition. It is interesting to note that Fabio Mauroner had a collection of thirteen prints created by Roth, many of which have individual greetings. John Taylor Arms owned some of Ernest Roth's prints. And certainly these are not isolated incidents of artists collecting other colleague's works.
 Fabio Maruoner,  Il Traghetto, 1907. Etching and drypoint. The Trout 
 Gallery, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. 2011.3.1

Mauroner, a native of Udine, is one of the most intriguing artists in the exhibition. He arrived in Venice in 1905, around the same time as his close friend Ernest David Roth and they produced similar views of churches, plazas, cloisters, and other sites. Mauroner's early works are close to Whistler's and Roth's approach of aspects of Venetian life, scenes more familiar to residents than visitors.  Il Traghetto, shown in mirror image, depicts one of the gondola ferries used at strategic points along the Grand Canal to take people to the opposite bank and is a good example of the portrayal of everyday life. Mauroner  achieved some recognition in the United States through the exhibition of the Chicago Society of Etchers in 1925, the Ehrich Gallery in New York City, and the Seattle Fine Arts Society in 1926.

Although many artists in this exhibition did not receive the "red carpet star" fame as other artists of their period, their contributions for the artistry of etching and our appreciation of their work is no less diminished.  I hope you will have the opportunity to see these works before the exhibition closes on December 13.

Denker, Eric.  Reflections and Undercurrents: Ernest Roth and Printmaking in Venice, 1900-1940, edited by Phillip Earenfight. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012.