The art of engraving has often been little recognized due to the undervaluation of works on paper and because it was not considered within the major arts, which would be painting, sculpture or architecture. And yet engraving is part of the history of art and without it its evolution cannot be understood. To correct these gaps and more so in the case of Catalonia, where there has not been an exhaustive study or a large retrospective exhibition, Catalan Encyclopedia now publishes a bibliophile edition (one thousand copies at 999 euros), in line with previous works, on The art of Catalan engraving , directed by Artur Ramon, with the collaboration of the best specialists and a wide and chosen reproduction of the best engravings.
It is a choral work that studies classical engraving, from the first woodcuts to the Enlightenment (by Rafael Cornudella) and the 19th century and the Noucentisme (Francesc Fontbona) to contemporary engraving. And in this last section there are more specific studies on modernity (Joan M. Minguet), Jaume Pla’s editions for Rosa Vera (Mercè Casanovas), engraving in the second half of the 20th century (Sol Enjuanes) and contemporary ( Albert Mercadé). And the volume is closed with an article of Albert Martí Palau on collecting and another by Eva Vila with a glossary that helps to distinguish between the different techniques and instruments of engraving.
Artur Ramon, art historian, antiquarian, and gallery owner, considers that “engraving is creativity and alchemy because the creative part is interwoven with the technical question, because the engraver does not know what will happen and chance plays an important role”. Hence, not only the artist is discussed, but also the engraving and the role of great specialists such as Joan Barberà.
Artur Ramon: “Marià Fortuny’s engravings are comparable to those of Goya or Rembrandt”
Another outstanding aspect of this work is the vindication of Catalan engraving. “Marià Fortuny he makes an engraving of great technical and innovative quality that equates him to the great masters such as Dürer, Goya, Rembrandt, Tiépolo or Piranesi ”, points out Artur Ramon. Etching Anchorite (1869) is one of his masterpieces. But next to him is another great figure like Xavier Nogués. Before, artists such as Francesc Tramulles stood out, with his Royal mask, Francesc Domènech or Pascual Pere Moles. And already in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century will come an outbreak with Joaquim Sunyer, Ricard Canals, Ramon Pichot, Anglada Camarasa, Mariano Andreu, Ismael Smith, Joaquim Mir and Emili Grau Sala, among others.
The massive and careless production of Dalí’s engravings in his last stage damaged his prestige
The three great artists, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Salvador DaliThey do not hesitate to approach the engraving either, although from different perspectives. Picasso, who began in Barcelona and was taught by Ricard Canals, made up to two thousand prints. Miró illustrates no less than 288 books. And Dalí, after works as serious as Songs of Maldoror and others from his first surrealist stage, he opted for a massive and sloppy production that brought him money but also discredited him.
In the last stage, from Tàpies to contemporaries, such as Barceló, Plensa or Perajaume and many others, engraving continues to be a widely used technique and in different versions, also as a way to reach a wider market.
Among the novelties that this work contributes, Artur Ramon highlights the vindication of the Rosa Vera engravers, whom he equates at the time to the production of the pictorial work of Dau al Set and the vindication of a generation of artists with names like Guinovart , Ràfols Casamada, Joan Ponç, Brotat, Clavé, Subirachs or Cardona Tarrandell who “have been lost between where the Macba ends and where the Mnac begins”. He also points out the almost unknown importance that the engravings of artists such as Aristides Maillol or Darío de Regoyos have had.
One last surprise of this careful edition is that it places artists like Roser Bru, Esther Boix, Maria Girona, Amèlia Riera, Eulàlia Grau, Rosa Vives or Montserrat Gudiol in the canon, even more hidden due to a gender issue.