by Brenda Rix, Assistant Curator, Prints and Drawings
The exhibition REMBRANDT / FREUD: Etchings from Life opens Saturday, January 30.
“With etching there is an element of danger and mystery. You don’t know how it’s going to come out. What’s black is white. What’s left is right.”
— Lucian Freud, March 2007
More than three hundred years separate the lives of Rembrandt van Rijn and Lucian Freud, two great masters of the human form. Both artists made printmaking an integral part of their art practice, and both have created extraordinary images using the etching process. Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1663), better known today for his paintings, was hailed in the seventeenth century as “a great virtuoso” for the astonishing range and variety of his work in the etching medium. Contemporary artist Lucian Freud is the grandson of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. He was born in Berlin in 1922 but has lived in England since 1933. Celebrated internationally as both a painter and a printmaker, he has been called the “Rembrandt of our times.”
Now, a provocative exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario juxtaposes the etchings of Rembrandt and Freud, encouraging visitors to make new connections between these two influential artists. Rembrandt / Freud: Etchings from Life showcases remarkable and uncompromising images of the human face and the human body. These are powerful works of art that go beyond surface appearances to reveal the inner life of their subjects. The exhibition includes self-portraits, nudes and portraits of family, friends, animals and landscapes.
The AGO has an extensive collection of Rembrandt etchings, thanks to a major gift in 2006 from Esther and Sam Sarick. The Mira Godard Gallery, the McMaster Museum of Art and several private collectors have generously loaned Freud etchings to this exhibition.