A New Exhibition Explores How a Medieval Printmaker Transformed the Artist’s Copyright

A new exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art in Wisconsin will showcase how a Medieval goldsmith working at the advent of European printmaking raised questions about copyright and branding that still resonate today.

“Art of Enterprise: Israhel van Meckenem’s 15th-Century Print Workshop” explores the life and impact of Israhel van Meckenem, whose prolific work during the latter half of the 15th century shaped print production in Northern Europe. Besides producing a vast quantity of Old Master prints, he would also engrave his own compositions, which depicted everyday German life with an intricate hand. The show will feature more than 60 objects, including his engravings of contemporaneous artists such as Master ES and Albrecht Dürer.

“Israhel is a particularly compelling early European printmaker from a present-day perspective,” said curator James R. Wehn. “He does some things early on in the history of European print that make him special.”

Featured image: Israhel van Meckenem, Head of a Man Wearing a Turban (date unknown). Photo courtesy of Albertina Museum via Chazen Museum

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