NOTRE DAME, IND.- The Snite Museum of Art
presents Cassatt and Beyond: Graphic Art from the Permanent Collection on view beginning July 22 until October 7, 2012. This focused exhibition of graphics complements the exhibition currently on view: Cassatt and Beyond: Paintings from the Flint Institute of Arts
Printmaking played an important role in popularizing Impressionism. The etching revival that began in Paris in the 1860s coincided with the development of avant-garde styles, and it was instrumental in changing how artists approached the process of making art. Chief among the proponents of the etching revival were Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Camille Pissarro, and James McNeill Whistler. The purpose of the group was to elevate printmaking to fine art by emphasizing the production of original prints, that is images that were designed to be prints rather than reproductions of paintings or drawings. By virtue of prints being multiple originals, the new art could be disseminated to a broader audience at affordable prices.
The experimental nature of printmaking and the circumstance of pulling prints from a press (for example, final images are in reverse) contributed to the liberation of art from its traditional function as a representation of reality. In addition, the method of editing a print by drawing, proofing, redrawing, proofing, until the artist achieved the desired effect underscored the process rather than the end product. Avid collectors started to hunt for an impression of each state (changed version) of a print in order to chart an artists creative process.
For many avant-garde artists, printmaking was a philosophical, aesthetic, and commercial enterprise.