The Fantastical World of Érik Desmazières, an exhibition that will run from September 10, 2009, to January 3, 2010, will be Canada’s first retrospective of the prints of one of the most fascinating and distinguished contemporary printmakers, French artist Érik Desmazières. Approximately sixty prints will be exhibited in the galleries of the new Graphic Arts Centre of Montreal of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
The works will cover the breadth of the artist’s achievements, from his earliest prints, such as The Astronomers of 1972, to his most recent work, Rembrandts Kunstcaemer of 2007. The selection comes from the collection of Irhold Inc., the company of Irwin Browns, whose recent gift to the museum made the new Graphic Arts Centre possible.
Exhibited around the world, the works of Érik Desmazières works are housed in the collections of many of the greatest international art museums, including the British Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge), the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York). The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and McGill University have also acquired works by Desmazières.
Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1948, Desmazières studied at the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris. After he graduated in 1971, he took evening classes in printmaking given by the city of Paris. There, he found his calling in intaglio prints, especially etching on copper, in which he found discipline for his drawing and great precision in defining forms. His corollary use of pen drawings to work out his compositions encouraged his study of Old Master drawings. From childhood, Desmazières had been attracted to the world of fantasy, but he was also profoundly influenced by a fascination with architecture and an appreciation of a remarkable range of great printmakers of the past who specialized in the intaglio method. Throughout his career, he has been influenced by Piranesi and Callot, whose Temptation of Saint Anthony inspired him to create a large print in etching, aquatint and roulette in 1993, but he also turned to such diverse sources as Marcantonio Raimondi, the French sixteenth-century School of Fontainebleau, Goya, Martin, Meryon, Doré and Dutch still lifes. Photography and film have inspired his manipulations of perspective and the privileged viewpoints in his compositions. His subjects range from studies of shellfish, gourds, old books and heads to fantastical creatures and monumental imagined architectural exteriors and interiors like his celebrated series “Parisian Arcades” and his series of prints of “René Tazé’s Studio,” which depicts a monumental etching press.
Érik Desmazières received the Grand prix des Arts de la Ville de Paris in 1978. He has served as president of the Société des peintres-graveurs français since 2006. In 2008, he was elected as a member of the Académie des beaux-arts (printmaking section).
The artist will give an illustrated lecture about his work on September 9, at 4 p.m., in the Maxwell-Cummings Auditorium of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
The Fantastical World of Érik Desmazières
Dates: September 10, 2009, to January 3, 2010
Museum: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Address: 1380 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest
City, Province: Montreal, Quebec
Tel:  285 2000
Tags: Erik Desmazieres
, The Arts
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