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Connecting Lines Engravings from the Wennesland Collection

Connecting Lines Engravings from the Wennesland Collection 10-17 DESEMBER 2016 GALLE R I HAAVI K KRISTIANSAND, NORWAY



Some engravings in the collection are copies and not chalcographies

In the 1970s a rare art collection arrived in Kristiansand from San Francisco. It was Reidar Wennesland (1908- 1985) who donated his entire vast collection to Kristiansand Katedralskole (1971) and Høgskolen i Agder (1978). Best known is the Beat collection which contains works from both famous and unknown artists, and is said to be the largest collection of Beat art outside the US. But the collection also contains a unique number of chalcographies1 originating from the 1800s. We now want to showcase this more or less unknown collection that has been stored in the UiA art storage, to convey the diversity of the Wennesland collection at the University of Agder. We see an interest in displaying collections of engravings both domestically and internationally, such as the exhibition Woodcuts - from Durer to Tal R, The Royal Collection of Graphic Art National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen (2011). The exhibition did not focus on one artist or a group of artists, nor on a theme of traditional art historical perspective, but focused rather on technique and function. This book also does not focus on the individual work of art / artist, but has a curatorial selection focusing on the common denominators of the visual expression and content divided into three themes: ‘Renaissance’, ‘Landscape’ and ‘Baroque/Gothic.’ This should not lead the reader into believing that the line of thinking is historical in the usual sense. The early modernist artists for instance, sought inspiration in earlier times. The various themes open up for such different interpretations and perspectives, hence text is omitted and offers an invitation to further research and discourse. Thank you to the University of Agder’s art collection who made it financially possible to realise this book project. Thank you to Julie Wennesland for the stunning graphic design of the book and a good collaboration. Thank you to paper conservator Hanna Finborud who restored the collection of chalcographies in 2016. Mette-Line Pedersen Art historian / adviser for the University of Agder’s art collection.


Engravings from the de Young Museum in the Wennesland Collection




Contemporary art the last 30 years has been pluralistic and conceptually charged. However, recent years have seen an increase in so-called ‘hands-on’ mentality, with a focus on media such as drawings, and further, printing / artists’ books. This increased interest in crafts has manifested itself as a ‘new’ wave on the contemporary art scene In light of such trends, it is therefore very appropriate and exciting to highlight the graphics / printed art of the Wennesland collection at the University of Agder. But regardless of the trends on the contemporary art scene, graphics is a living technique which has existed all along, despite changing trends in the art world. Reidar Wennesland, who spent most of his adult life in San Francisco, donated his vast personal collection to Høgskolen i Agder and Kristiansand Katedalskole in the 1970s. Reidar Wennesland, the doctor, animal lover and art collector, is most known for his donation of Beat art, but he also collected chalcographies, copper engravings, from the 1800s. The engravings that today belong to UiA, were originally part of the collection at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. But during the 1960s the museum sold a number of engravings and several of these were acquired by Wennesland. It is interesting that Reidar also collected more ‘traditional’, classical expressions, a stark contrast to the style of the Beat art, the ‘abstract expressionism from San Francisco.’ The diversity of the collection reveals much about the man Reidar Wennesland and his taste in art. According to the NRK documentary Kolera og Kunst 1, it is clear that Wennesland is a great art lover and was ahead of his time compared to the contemporary art of the period. He had awareness in art history and this is possibly why he bought the copper engravings from the de Young Museum. The engravings in the collection are from both known and unknown artists, some are copies, prints from books, but the majority are chalcographies. During the Middle Ages books and images had been an exclusive phenomenon, as they had to be produced by hand. Only the church, lords and the nobility could afford to acquire books and images. This all changed in the 1400s, due to the two technical inventions of the printing press kolera-og-kunst and graphics. This enabled the democratisation of both book and image, Danbolt, Gunnar. Norsk kunsthistorie: Bilde because both could now be mass produced, which in turn reduced the og skulptur frå vikingtida til i dag, Samlaget 2009 cost and made the products available to ordinary people 2.

The three traditional techniques in printmaking are relief (woodcut), intaglio (chalcography and etching) and planographic printing (lithography). Chalcography is a printing technique using engravings on copper plates. The technique is characterised by fine, sharp lines. The lines in chalcographies are confined and have a defined onset and end. The technique allows for fine lines and small details. From the 1500s producing chalcographies from famous portrait paintings, motifs from the Bible, mythologies, landscapes, allegories and street life became common practice. From the 1800s the technique was used particularly to engrave plates for illustrations for books and other printed material. The historical lines of the printing history start with woodcut, the oldest form or printing technique that we know, which is still in use by artists today. It is a highly living technique. The most important woodcut period is from the 1400s to the 1500s. During this period the technique evolves from the simple, two dimensional expressions of the Middle Ages to the highly complicated and spatially nuanced images of the Renaissance and becomes the most widespread and common technique. The chalcographies vary, in expression and quality, but the collection showcases the diversity of the Wennesland collection, both in motifs and art forms. Text: Mette-Line Pedersen






IMAGE ON PAGE 8–9: Guzzi, G. L’Annunciazione (Lorenzo di Credi) Undated 25 x 34,7 cm Engravings on paper


Unknown artist Unknown title 19th century 43 x 34 cm Engravings on paper


The total number of engravings from the collection constitutes 178 pieces. For more information about the Wennesland Collection at UiA, visit: Facebook: The Beat art collection at the University of Agder The information provided within is for general informational purposes only. While we have tried to ensure that the information is correct, there are no warranties about the accuracy with respect to the information or related graphics contained in this work for any purpose.

Editor: Mette-Line Pedersen Design & layout: Julie Wennesland Repro: JK Morris, Sweden Printed & Bound: Livonia Print, Latvia ISBN 978-82-7117-835-2 Edition of 500 2016 @ University of Agder All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means now known or invented here-after, without written permission from the publisher.

Connecting Lines (preview)  

Excerpt from the book "Connecting Lines - Engravings from the Wennesland Collection". Editor: Mette-Line Pedersen. Design and layout: Julie...

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