Impressive Dürer Art Exhibit Opens at USF

USF’s First Exhibition of 2015 Explores Earliest Moments of Print

SAN FRANCISCO (Jan. 21, 2015)

The University of San Francisco’s (USF) Donohue Rare Book Room and Thacher Gallery will partner with USF’s Masters in Museum Studies Program to present, Reformations: Dürer & the New Age of Print, an historically important grouping of early European books and prints from the University’s permanent collection. The exhibition opens Monday, Jan. 26 and runs through Feb. 22. 

A collaborative, student-curated exhibit, Reformations: Dürer & the New Age of Print, focuses on the earliest moments of print and printed book culture in Europe, particularly concentrating on the impact of new print technologies and their uses in and around Nuremberg, Germany in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.

This exhibition highlights how the new production and circulation of early prints and printed books, including devotional woodcuts, humanist texts, pamphlets, and fine, collectible prints, reflects and contributed to religious and cultural change during a transformative period in Western history.

At its core, the Reformations exhibit highlights the distinctive character of early sixteenth-century engravings and woodcut prints executed by German-born artist Albrecht Dürer (1472-1528). The exhibition includes Dürer’s complete Life of the Virgin woodcut series (20 prints), the Engraved Passion series (16 prints), the Small Passion woodcut series (36 prints), and a selection of other single Dürer prints:  all executed around 1510. These reproductive woodcuts and engravings, donated to Gleeson Library by early 20th-century, German collector and businessman, Reinhard F. Timken-Zinkann, shed light on how Dürer used the new print medium to produce and circulate inventive imagery that appealed to Reformation-era devotees, and helped spread Dürer’s own artistic renown throughout Europe.

In addition to the prints, Reformations also features more than 40 early printed books, most from Germany and northern Italy, c. 1465 - 1525. Highlights include a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, an early printed Book of Hours, a complete copy of the Nuremberg Chronicles, Dürer’s illustrated geometry treatise, and the first, printed edition of Vitruvius’s On Architecture. Rare printings of early humanist texts by Dante, Machiavelli, Desiderius Erasmus, Thomas More, Luca Pacioli, and Virgil are also on display. 

Master’s degree students in the USF Museum Studies Program had the opportunity to collaborate and curate this exhibition of 117 historically important objects. As part of the semester-long Curatorial Studies Practicum, the students were significant in the development and execution of Reformations. Student curators developed the exhibition theme, assisted in the final selection of objects, researched and wrote interpretative object labels and didactic panels, designed exhibition layout and displays in both Thacher Gallery and Rare Book Room. The students also wrote and produced online, self-guided tours, and assisted with the installation. In promoting Reformations, students developed the design vision for the exhibition banners, as well as create content and plans for outreach, including social media and the Thacher website.

Dürer & the New Age of Print Events:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 27: An insider’s introduction and roundtable will take place from 1:30-3 p.m. in USF’s McLaren Conference Center 250, followed by an opening reception from 3-4 p.m. in Thacher Gallery and the Donohue Rare Book Room. The roundtable will feature Susan M. Dackerman (Consultative Curator of Prints, Harvard Art Museums), Elizabeth A. Honig (Professor of History of Art, University of California, Berkeley), Katrina B. Olds (Associate Professor of History, University of San Francisco), two Museum Studies student curators, Sabrina Oliveras and Melissa Zabel, and will be moderated by Kate Lusheck (Assistant Professor, Art History & Museum Studies, University of San Francisco).
  • Thursday, Jan. 29 at 12 p.m., Thacher Gallery: A special chamber music performance by USF Performing Arts faculty.
  • There will also be a series of gallery talks focused on specialized topics to accompany the exhibit by USF faculty members. Each of these events begin in the Thacher Gallery.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 4 from 1-2 p.m.: Focus on Renaissance Book Culture by Professor Katrina Olds (History)
  • Thursday, Feb. 5 from 1-2 p.m.: Focus on Dürer by Professor Kate Lusheck (Art History, Museum Studies, Art& Architecture)
  • Thursday, Feb. 12 from 1-2 p.m.: Focus on Printmaking demonstration by Professor Arturo Araujo (Fine Art, Art & Architecture)
  • Thursday, Feb. 19 from 1-2 p.m.: Focus on Renaissance Typography by Professor Stuart McKee (Design, Art & Architecture)

All of these events are free and open to the public.

Located in Gleeson Library — Geschke Center, the Thacher Gallery at USF is free and open to the public from noon to 6 p.m. daily The Donohue Rare Book Room is located on the third floor of Gleeson Library and is free and open to the public Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.