When the Dog Bites, When the Bee Stings

Graciela Iturbide

October 7, 2016 – January 8, 2017
John Brady Print Gallery

In the Curator's Words:

"For the last exhibition I am organizing before my retirement, I have selected “a few of my favorite things.” The exhibition’s title comes from a line in a song in The Sound of Music. Recalling beloved objects, times of the year, visions, and sensations, “My Favorite Things” speaks to the healing power of memory.

The permanent collections house thousands of prints, drawings, and photographs representing a wide variety of centuries, nationalities, styles, and media. Whether precious, rare, and major masterpieces, or cheap, mass-produced, humble printed pictures, all are fascinating to me. Although at any given time our visitors might see only 30 or 40 prints and drawings on view in the galleries, I am fortunate to have had this marvelous collection as my domain to explore and think about how the world communicates through pictures. What are my favorites? Why do certain ones continue to speak to me? I might love a supremely wonderful visual idea, the intensity, the courage, the inventiveness, the wit, or the use of technique. I might love a work for its lack of grandeur and quiet rightness. The exhibition texts will tell some of the reasons, and some of my stories.

My checklist for this exhibition is highly personal and features rare works by old and modern masters that I helped to acquire and wrote about for the Art Center (Jacques Bellange, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Jehan Duvet, René Magritte, and Vincent van Gogh). There are quietly delicious 18th-century etchings (Anne Allen, Daniel Chodowiecki, Sebastien Le Clerc, and Maria Sybilla Merian), as well as prints that seem addled, nightmarish, and borderline crazy (Max Klinger, Charles Meryon, and Ross Racine). There are prints so visually rich I could look at them forever and never cease to discover new things (Rodolphe Bresdin and Jacques Callot). I chose an early 19th-century Japanese color print with astonishing design and bold brushwork (Kiyonaga); two Modernist abstract compositions that awe me with the intelligence of design and perfection of their execution (Ella Bergman-Michel and Agnes Denes); as well as prints by contemporary artists who, with their reinvention of traditional media, took my breath away (Dinos and Jake Chapman, and Tara Donovan).

I celebrate some of my favorite Print Club gifts and commissioned prints (John Cage and Martin Puryear). I include prints given by Art Center benefactors and friends (John Huseby, Ted Stroud, and Richard and Kay Ward). I could not resist including some recent gifts from Kay Ward, nine enchanting color woodblock prints by late 19th-century Japanese artist Yoshu Chikanobu that have never been shown at the Art Center before. And just because I wanted to see it again, I selected a beautiful little painting on silk (Camille Pissarro) that was once owned by Louise Noun, whose friendship and example were so important to me, and whose interests and generosity are reflected in many works in this exhibition. It includes works given by dear friends (Chuck Close’s daguerreotype portrait of former Art Center Director Jim Demetrion, given by Melva Bucksbaum and family) and Graciela Iturbide’s Angel/Mujer, given in honor of Lou Fingerman by his family). Also present are works by two important artists with whom I studied printmaking (Leonard Baskin and Mauricio Lasansky); by artists from the distant past whose sublime prints influenced me as an artist (Antonio Canaletto, Albrecht Dürer, Hendrik Goltzius, and Martin Schongauer); and by artists I love for their astonishing humanity and truth-telling (Francisco Goya and Rembrandt van Rijn). I like to think of these prints and drawings as picture messages that have come down to us in time. These objects have passed through the hands of the artists and workers who created them. They have been held by the people who bought, sold, owned, donated, studied, were inspired by them, and loved them. I have held them in my hands too. Each of the objects in the exhibition epitomizes a personal memory of my life and work in the print world. Thinking of my favorite things tempers my regret in leaving." 

– Amy N. Worthen, curator of prints and drawings

Graciela Iturbide (Mexican, born 1942)
Mujer/Angel (Woman/Angel), 1996
Photogravure on paper
Sheet: 26 1/8 x 32 1/4 inches
Plate: 17 1/8 x 24 9/16 inches
Image: 16 1/8 x 24 1/4 inches
Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Purchased with funds given by his daughters and grandchildren in honor of Louis Fingerman’s 65th birthday, 1999.26 Photo: Rich Sanders, Des Moines, Iowa

entirely unexpected