Woodcut suite after Holbein by artist Dirk Hagner
Artist Talk with Printmaker Dirk Hagner, and reception on Thursday, January 11th @ 7:00 PM
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The exhibition can be viewed from January 11th through February 22nd, 2018 during the Goethe-Institut’s regular business hours. No RSVP Needed
Although Hans Holbein der Jüngere published the popular theme of “Totentanz” (Dance of Death) over 490 years ago in 1526 as a series of small woodcuts in book form in Southern Germany, the “Danse Macabre” theme first appeared in Germany and France in the 14th century. The “Totentanz” depicts persons from all walks of society, from the elites to the masses, as death teases and beckons them to follow along in the dance into the grave. It is a reminder that at the end we are all mortal, that death is the great equalizer.
Since then, there has been a recurring tradition in music, poetry as well as the visual and performing arts to periodically revisit this theme in a contemporary context. Strangely enough, there appears to be no such tradition in American art and to many people in the United States, the subject remains unfamiliar.
In his print series AMERICAN TOTENTANZ, Master Printmaker, Dirk Hagner presents a contemporary version of this ageless theme. Hagner’s project, over 3 years in the making, is composed of 24 scenes of woodcuts, in up to 8 colors, was released two prints at a time. The suite pairs sets of 2 prints, each including one line of a simple rhyming couplet that links the prints together.
The suite does not follow the sequence or quantity of Holbein’s Totentanz exactly. As is to be expected, many of the characters important in Holbein’s time have changed, and are no longer relevant in our lives today. However, some have remained the same over the centuries. As Death was frequently depicted appearing with a musical instrument, Hagner follows that tradition using American instruments when possible.
AMERICAN TOTENTANZ consists of 24 scenes, full bleed woodcut prints in up to 8 colors, hand-printed on 250 gm Stonehenge Kraft rag paper, to deckle edges, each measuring 22.5 x 30 inches (57.2 x 76.2 cm). The edition size is 10, plus 5 to be bound in elephant folio-sized books, one of which will be on display as part of this exhibition.
A master printmaker and educator, Hagner was born and raised in Germany, where he studied at the Folkwang School of Fine Arts, University of Essen. Since the 1980s he lives in the United States. Working in new directions, Hagner draws historic, geographic, political, and artistic connections to the past. Old procedures like letterpress and etching are joined with photo intaglio and and other contemporary methods. In his art, influences from European and American art meet the sensibilities of line and space of the Far East. New ideas refer to old concepts and traditional methods express contemporary content. Hagner’s diverse body of work includes numerous large-scale woodcut portraits of artists, poets, writers, and actors who interest him. A member of the Los Angeles Printmaking Society, Hagner lives and works in Southern California.
$1 validated parking (for events only) on weekdays after 6:00 pm and all day on weekends in the Wilshire Courtyard West underground garage-P1. We are unfortunately unable to offer validated parking during regular business hours.