Valentine’s Day: Couples – And The Absence Of Same – In Fine Prints

By Jane Allinson, Allinson Gallery (IFPDA)

Arise from sleep, old cat,
And with great yawns and stretchings…
Amble out for love
.” Kobayashi Issa, Japanese Haiku
Printmakers have explored various aspects of love and romance.
 —
R.S. JOHNSON FINE ART (IFPDA) Coat of Arms with a Skull Albrecht Durer Dürer places the theme of love in a less-than-romantic context. In Coat of Arms with a Skull(1503), a bride, embraced by a wild man, is unaware of the skull, the helmet and the wings of time in in the foreground of the engraving. The message is memento mori - remember death.

R.S. JOHNSON FINE ART (IFPDA)
Coat of Arms with a Skull
Albrecht Durer
Dürer places the theme of love in a less-than-romantic context. In Coat of Arms with a Skull(1503), a bride, embraced by a wild man, is unaware of the skull, the helmet and the wings of time in in the foreground of the engraving. The message is memento mori – remember death.

HARRIS SCRHANK FINE PRINTS (IFPDA) Adam and Eve Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt Rembrandt pictured love in a Biblical context. Adam and Eve (1638) are pictured in the garden of Eden, just before they tasted the fruit of good and evil, as a mythic serpent looked on.

HARRIS SCRHANK FINE PRINTS (IFPDA)
Adam and Eve
Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt
Rembrandt pictured love in a Biblical context. Adam and Eve (1638) are pictured in the garden of Eden, just before they tasted the fruit of good and evil, as a mythic serpent looked on.

 

ALLINSON GALLERY (IFPDA) Orpheus and Eurydice Sir Frank Short Sir Frank Short explored the theme of love lost, not once but twice, in this mezzotint version (1889) of the painting, Orpheus and Eurydice by George Frederic Watts, R.A., H.R.C.A. In the Greek myth, Orpheus' wife, Eurydice, while fleeing from Aristaeus (son of Apollo), ran into a nest of snakes which bit her fatally on her heel. Distraught, Orpheus played such sad songs and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and gods wept. On their advice, Orpheus traveled to the underworld and by his music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone. The agreed to allow Eurydice to return with him to earth on one condition: he should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper world. In his anxiety he forgot that both needed to be in the upper world, and he turned to look at her, and she vanished for the second time, but now forever.

ALLINSON GALLERY (IFPDA)
Orpheus and Eurydice
Sir Frank Short
Sir Frank Short explored the theme of love lost, not once but twice, in this mezzotint version (1889) of the painting, Orpheus and Eurydice by George Frederic Watts, R.A., H.R.C.A. In the Greek myth, Orpheus’ wife, Eurydice, while fleeing from Aristaeus (son of Apollo), ran into a nest of snakes which bit her fatally on her heel. Distraught, Orpheus played such sad songs and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and gods wept. On their advice, Orpheus traveled to the underworld and by his music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone. The agreed to allow Eurydice to return with him to earth on one condition: he should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper world. In his anxiety he forgot that both needed to be in the upper world, and he turned to look at her, and she vanished for the second time, but now forever.

 

SCHRANK HARRIS FINE PRINTS (IFPDA) L'Amour Raoul Dufy Raoul Dufy placed stylized modern lovers in a serpentless garden inspired by the primitivism of the woodcuts of the German Expressionists. A butterfly replaces Rembrandt's serpent. L'Amour (1910) was one of a set of 4 woodcuts by the artist.

SCHRANK HARRIS FINE PRINTS (IFPDA)
L’Amour
Raoul Dufy
Raoul Dufy placed stylized modern lovers in a serpentless garden inspired by the primitivism of the woodcuts of the German Expressionists. A butterfly replaces Rembrandt’s serpent. L’Amour (1910) was one of a set of 4 woodcuts by the artist.

 

ALLINSON GALLERY (IFPDA) The Waltz Anders Zorn Zorn etched a more glamorous image in The Waltz. (1891). The setting is a ball given by the Zorns in their Paris studio on the Boulevard de Clichy. The artist is dancing with his model, model Marta Petrini. The woman of the couple at the right is Emma Zorn.

ALLINSON GALLERY (IFPDA)
The Waltz
Anders Zorn
Zorn etched a more glamorous image in The Waltz. (1891). The setting is a ball given by the Zorns in their Paris studio on the Boulevard de Clichy. The artist is dancing with his model, model Marta Petrini. The woman of the couple at the right is Emma Zorn.

 

GALERIE HENZE & KETTERER Der Kuss Edvard Munch Edvard Munch was fascinated with the themes love, sex and death. Der Kuss (1895) captures an intimate moment between two nudes, the woman pulling the man towards her in a lover's embrace, mouths locked in a passionate kiss. Munch often pictured women as femmes fatales.

GALERIE HENZE & KETTERER
Der Kuss
Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch was fascinated with the themes love, sex and death. Der Kuss (1895) captures an intimate moment between two nudes, the woman pulling the man towards her in a lover’s embrace, mouths locked in a passionate kiss. Munch often pictured women as femmes fatales.

 

ALLINSON GALLERY (IFPDA) Love on the Roof John Sloan John Sloan shows lovers against erotically-charged laundry in Love on the Roof. (1914) Sloan wrote, 'Poetic license probably permitted me to introduce many details in these city life plates. Note the protest of the fluttering garments and the neglected child. This woman was about thirty and the boy about eighteen. The nightshirts and underwear belonged to her husband. Seen from Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue, 11th floor studio. All these comments are deductions. I just saw it and etched it.' The etching was cited in a trial as an example of 'immorality in art.'

ALLINSON GALLERY (IFPDA)
Love on the Roof
John Sloan
John Sloan shows lovers against erotically-charged laundry in Love on the Roof. (1914) Sloan wrote, ‘Poetic license probably permitted me to introduce many details in these city life plates. Note the protest of the fluttering garments and the neglected child. This woman was about thirty and the boy about eighteen. The nightshirts and underwear belonged to her husband. Seen from Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue, 11th floor studio. All these comments are deductions. I just saw it and etched it.’ The etching was cited in a trial as an example of ‘immorality in art.’

 

ALLINSON GALLERY (IFPDA) Preliminaries (to the Big Bout) George Bellows George Bellows intertwines the themes of love the prizefighting ring in Preliminaries (to the Big Bout) (1916). The grappling fighters in the ring mirror the couples in various stages of togetherness, as the well-dressed woman in the foreground stares unabashedly at the viewer as her hand reaches for an intimate place on the gentleman beside her.

ALLINSON GALLERY (IFPDA)
Preliminaries (to the Big Bout)
George Bellows
George Bellows intertwines the themes of love the prizefighting ring in Preliminaries (to the Big Bout) (1916). The grappling fighters in the ring mirror the couples in various stages of togetherness, as the well-dressed woman in the foreground stares unabashedly at the viewer as her hand reaches for an intimate place on the gentleman beside her.

 

GILDEN'S ARTS GALLERY Couple by the Sea Erich Heckel Erich Heckel portrays a stylized Couple by the Sea (1920) employing sharply pointed forms against an expressionist background of pervasive white light.

GILDEN’S ARTS GALLERY
Couple by the Sea
Erich Heckel
Erich Heckel portrays a stylized Couple by the Sea (1920) employing sharply pointed forms against an expressionist background of pervasive white light.

 

ALLINSON GALLERY (IFPDA) Cathedral Steps Martin Lewis Martin Lewis' subtle of humor is apparent in Cathedral Steps (1941). The location is the corner of Fiftieth Street and Fifth Avenue.According to McCarron,. "The drypoint depicts the lower steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral at dusk, with the lighted windows of the Saks Fifth Avenue department store in the background. Lying on the steps is a discarded newspaper, the Evening Observer, with the headline "LOVE NEST".

ALLINSON GALLERY (IFPDA)
Cathedral Steps
Martin Lewis
Martin Lewis’ subtle of humor is apparent in Cathedral Steps (1941). The location is the corner of Fiftieth Street and Fifth Avenue.According to McCarron,. “The drypoint depicts the lower steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral at dusk, with the lighted windows of the Saks Fifth Avenue department store in the background. Lying on the steps is a discarded newspaper, the Evening Observer, with the headline ‘LOVE NEST'”.

 

SIMON THEOBALD (IFPDA) Les Amoureux de la Tour Eiffel Marc Chagall Chagall sent Les Amoureux de la Tour Eiffel (1960), a pair of lovers seated on a rooster, flying over the Eifel Tower. The image typifies Chagall etherial view of romance and love. A large red sun glows over the blue Parisian cityscape.

SIMON THEOBALD (IFPDA)
Les Amoureux de la Tour Eiffel
Marc Chagall
Chagall sent Les Amoureux de la Tour Eiffel (1960), a pair of lovers seated on a rooster, flying over the Eifel Tower. The image typifies Chagall etherial view of romance and love. A large red sun glows over the blue Parisian cityscape.

 

ROGALLERY Woman and Satyr Erté In Woman and Satyr (1980) Erté presents an elegant woman being serenaded by the satyr in a picture hanging on the wall in this clever Art Deco style serigraph.

ROGALLERY
Woman and Satyr
Erté
In Woman and Satyr (1980) Erté presents an elegant woman being serenaded by the satyr in a picture hanging on the wall in this clever Art Deco style serigraph.

 

LESLIE SACKS GALLERY (IFPDA) The Couple Roy Lichtenstein Roy Lichtenstein reinterprets earlier an stylistic movement in The Couple (1980), from the Expressionist Woodcut Series.

LESLIE SACKS GALLERY (IFPDA)
The Couple
Roy Lichtenstein
Roy Lichtenstein reinterprets earlier an stylistic movement in The Couple (1980), from the Expressionist Woodcut Series.

 

PUCCIO FINE ART Love (Red, Yellow and Orange) Robert Indiana LOVE - Red, Yellow and Orange. (1996) Robert Indiana peoples his Love serigraph series with brightly-colored letters and background colors. The couples in the previous works are gone.

PUCCIO FINE ART
Love (Red, Yellow and Orange)
Robert Indiana
LOVE – Red, Yellow and Orange. (1996) Robert Indiana peoples his Love serigraph series with brightly-colored letters and background colors. The couples in the previous works are gone.

 

GALERIE FLUEGEL-RONCAK I Love You - White/Black/Fuchsia/Cool Gold Damien Hirst Damien Hirst also eschews a traditional couple in I Love You - White/Black/Fuchsia/Cool Gold(2015). Instead, he presents a (Whistlerian) butterfly within a heart.

GALERIE FLUEGEL-RONCAK
I Love You – White/Black/Fuchsia/Cool Gold
Damien Hirst
Damien Hirst also eschews a traditional couple in I Love You – White/Black/Fuchsia/Cool Gold(2015). Instead, he presents a (Whistlerian) butterfly within a heart.

 

In summary, love is portrayed in various facets throughout the history of printmaking. Couples may be stylized or idealized or left out entirely. The theme of love continues to fascinate.

Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.” Jalaluddin Rumi

 

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