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21st-CenturyTechnology Helps Uncover 16TH-Century Mysteries

For Immediate Release

October 01, 2001

For decades art historians have speculated that 16th-century printmaker Hendrick Goltzius used the bronzes of sculptor Willem Danielsz. van Tetrode as models for his prints. Since little historical record remains, how do scholars find evidence of something that took place more than 400 years ago? By applying the latest technology in digital photography, curators at the Clark Art Institute have recently found new and compelling visual evidence that Goltzius took legs, arms, heads, torsos, and backs from different angles of Tetrode's statuettes and translated them into two-dimensions in his own work. These discoveries are highlighted in the new exhibition Goltzius and the Third Dimension, on view at the Clark through January 6. Another 21st-century technology, an interactive computer program, will help museum visitors see some of these same angles close-up and compare for themselves.

To examine the Tetrode sculptures and compare them with Goltzius's prints, Clark photographer Michael Agee, working with curator James A. Ganz, placed each of the three sculptures in the exhibition on a rotating platform. With a digital camera connected directly to a computer screen they were able to look at and manipulate the angle of viewing, instantly comparing the view on the screen to the print itself. The digital setup also allowed them to view close details, and to reverse or "flip" portions of the statues to see if they related to a print, as printmakers often flipped views when copying from another work of art. Agee also experimented with lighting angles on the sculpture to see if different shadows more closely matched certain prints.

"The visual evidence was always there, but it was less obvious to the naked eye," said Ganz. "As the images came up on the screen and Mike was able to get the angles just right, we began to see more and more instances that convinced us that Goltzius must have been looking at these Tetrode bronzes."

To give visitors the opportunity to get a good look for themselves, the gallery will include an interactive computer kiosk. Visitors will be able to view images of each sculpture. Clicking on a portion of the sculpture, such as a leg, will bring up a detail of that part next to the print that corresponds. The "matching" detail of the print then appears.

"By using the interactive program, visitors will be able to get close in a way they wouldn't otherwise be able to do with the actual works of art," said Ganz. "I hope they will use the program, then go back and look at the sculptures and prints themselves. They can compare for themselves and form their own opinion."

The interactive portion of the exhibition is also available on the Clark website, at http://clarkart.edu/exhibitions/goltzius/.

Goltzius and the Third Dimension marks the first opportunity for the public to see these bronzes and prints together. The exhibition features three statuettes by Tetrode: Hercules Pomarius, Nude Warrior/Deity, and Hercules and Antaeus. In comparing the bronzes with the prints, co-curators Ganz and Stephen Goddard, senior curator of prints at the Spencer Museum, University of Kansas, were able to visually confirm the relationships. For example, Tetrode's Hercules Pomarius corresponds to several different Goltzius prints, including The Great Hercules and pieces from The Roman Heroes. Two different figures in Goltzius's Metamorphoses seem to have originated in Tetrode's work: Mars appears to have legs from Hercules Pomarius and the torso of the Nude Warrior, while from the waist down Saturn resembles Hercules Pomarius seen from the back.

Goltzius and the Third Dimension was made possible through the loan of 33 prints and three bronzes from the Collection of the Hearn Family Trust. Organized by the Clark, the exhibition will travel to the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas (March 30-May 26). The accompanying catalogue features more than 70 illustrations and essays Goddard and Ganz.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free through May.  For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.

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