An IU professor’s work on a collection catalog was featured in the Sunday Times of London’s 2017 art books of the year list.
Cordula Grewe, associate professor in the Department of Art History, co-edited the catalog "The Enchanted World of German Romantic Prints 1770-1850." The catalog features prints and printmakers selected by her and her co-editor, Curator of Prints John Ittmann.
The project was led by Ittmann, who works for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, when in 1990 he discovered German romantic prints in a collection of European prints at the museum.
When Grewe was introduced to the project years later, she was working on a book of her own.
The two came into contact because of the German romantic print collection, and while researching a specific piece, she said they realized the great partnership they had.
“We spent three or four hours poring over that and, at the end there was this real chemistry between us, and it revived John’s idea to put this on a grand scale,” Grewe said.
The prints were originally made into an exhibit at the museum. The entire project took about 10 years from the time the two first met in 2007 to the release of the museum exhibition in 2013 and the catalog release in 2017.
As the title states, the catalog features German Romantic prints from the late 1700s to the mid-1800s. Ittmann said this art form has been mostly forgotten, as much of the focus has been on German music and poetry.
“No one had really dug into the later German prints because they were totally out of style,” he said.
The catalog includes 325 prints, which were selected from 8,500 prints total, covering 850 printmakers. Grewe and Ittmann’s goal for the catalog was to reach a wide audience.
“We wanted to have a catalog that speaks to both general readership and a print specialist,” said Grewe.
When choosing the prints for the catalog, the two said they considered two aspects when deciding. They wanted to pick out pieces that related to significant happenings of the period as well as highlight certain prints and printmakers.
Given that the catalog was based off a museum exhibition, the visuals were also important to the piece.
“You want to represent them as best you can,” said Kathleen Krattenmaker, editor and project manager of the catalog.
Krattenmaker was in charge of keeping track of everything involved in the project as well as editing the essays within the catalog. The essays, she said, had to coordinate with the images and coordinate with each other, as various authors contributed to the work. Grewe said she wanted the essays to be well-balanced and edited the essays to accomplish this.
Grewe and Ittmann were both excited upon finding out the book was mentioned on the Sunday Times of London’s list and credit the honor on the catalog itself.
“There is something about these prints that has this real mesmerizing quality, and if you allow yourself to sort of get into them, they really capture you,” Grewe said.