The Rembrandt House News

Érik Desmazières

The Rembrandt House News: Current Exhibitions

The Rembrandt House News: Current Exhibitions [The Desmazières exhibition at Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam ( opened September 18, 2004 and was extended through the following January, 2005. The following was excerpted from the museum's web site]

The French artist Érik Desmazières is unquestionably one of the leading graphic artists of today. His work is outstanding in its phenomenal control of technique and the great precision with which details and textures are executed. The retrospective in the Rembrandt House presents a representative selection of some sixty of his prints. The exhibition coincides with the publication of a monograph on Desmazières' life and work. This study, the first work [substantial critical study] about the artist, is published by the Hercules Segers Foundation in Amsterdam.

The Rembrandt House has asked the artist to make a series of Vues d'Amsterdam On four separate occasions he has spent a week in Amsterdam, at the museum's invitation, studying the work of the renowned Dutch graphic artist Willem Witsen, and making sketches in situ. The prints have been created in Paris on the basis of these studies. The series is one of the most important elements of the exhibition.

Desmazières, the son of a French diplomat, was born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1948. Initially he also contemplated a career in the diplomatic service, but after graduating in political science from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris in 1971 he decided to become an artist. Because experts who had seen his drawings advised him to start making prints, he enrolled for the engraving course at the Cours du Soir de la Ville de Paris, graduating in 1973. Desmazières' graphic oeuvre meanwhile numbers almost two hundred prints. As well as prints he also makes drawings and gouaches. His work enjoys a great reputation among connoisseurs and is represented in numerous important private and public collections all over the world.

During his period of training Desmazières became increasingly fascinated by the art of etching. In a very short space of time he developed into an extraordinarily original and skilled etcher who, with breathtaking virtuosity and great craftsmanship, makes prints on the most diverse subjects—interiors, studios, cityscapes, landscapes, monumental architectural fantasies in the style of Piranesi, and grotesque, fantastic compositions that are reminiscent of the worlds of Hieronymus Bosch and Jacques Callot. His compositions are carefuly constructed and built up of fine-meshed patterns of hatching, cross-hatching, stippling and dotted lines made with a roulette. Powerful chiaroscuro effects are achieved by the judicious use of aquatint.

Desmazières' virtuosity comes to the fore in his colour etchings. He uses several etching plates to create these technical tours de force. Desmazières' interest in the use of colour is also expressed in the prints that he has heightened with a brush.

The exhibition displays a representative selection of some sixty prints. The selected works provide an enlightening view of Desmazières' artistic growth and development, his choice of subjects and his immense technical skill. The Rembrandt House Museum regards informing a wide public about graphic techniques—both historic and contemporary—as one of its key tasks, and there will consequently be a particular focus on Desmazières' working methods. The inclusion of preliminary studies, preparatory drawings and proofs of various states will give the public an insight into the genesis of the prints. There is also an exploration of the often surprising effects that Desmazières succeeds in obtaining by using different types of paper and varying the way the etching plate is inked when pulling impressions of a print.

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