Chazen Museum of Art | Opening Day for “Art of Enterprise: Israhel van Meckenem’s 15th-Century Print Workshop”

Art of Enterprise: Israhel van Meckenem’s 15th-Century Print Workshop

Opening Day!

Discover parallels between the business of 15th-century printmaking and today’s branding practices in “Art of Enterprise: Israhel van Meckenem’s 15th-Century Print Workshop,” on view Dec. 18, 2023-March 24, 2024 at the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The exhibition will be the first in the United States to present new research about the role Israhel van Meckenem (German, 1440/1445-1503) played in developing printmaking as a fine art and will feature more than 60 objects that place his important engravings alongside images he copied from his contemporaries, including Master ES, Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Dürer.

“Israhel van Meckenem was the first printmaker to experiment with using his name as a brand or a trademark,” said exhibition curator James Wehn, the Chazen’s Van Vleck curator of works on paper. “‘Art of Enterprise’ presents a new opportunity to look at Israhel van Meckenem as not only a printmaker but an entrepreneur during a time when there was no concept of copyright or legal protections for intellectual capital like we have today. The works on view illuminate how longstanding copy culture collided with the new ability to replicate an image through printmaking and, as a result, prompted emerging concepts of authenticity and authorship.”

The exhibition explores the business of printmaking in the late 15th century, focusing on Israhel’s operation of a productive workshop during the initial rise of printed text and images in Europe. The engravings in the exhibition highlight Israhel’s primary audiences and the ways they used engravings. The exhibition will also explore his strategic use of materials like paper and copper, as well as the development of new products, including intricate ornamental designs, engraved indulgences, scenes of everyday life and the earliest printed self-portrait.