As a contemporary counterpart to the significant presence of important artists having worked as both painters and engravers in its collections, such as Dürer and Schongauer, the Musée Unterlinden has recently acquired twelve engravings by Henri Goetz, an American artist of Alsatian ancestry who definitively settled in France in 1932 at the age of 23. With this addition, the museum strengthens its holdings in modern prints and drawings. Its collections also include works by Johnny Friedlaender, Jeanne Coppel, Max Beckmann, and Otto Dix, among others.
Henri Goetz’s invention of carborundum engraving in 1967 revolutionised the art of printmaking in the 20th century. This new technique gives artists greater freedom of expression, allowing for the use of a wider range of textures and colours, making him the most important engraver of the 20th century. Among the major influences playing a part in the development of Goetz as an artist were the dream world of the Surrealists, the chromatic lyricism of the New School of Paris, and the gestural Abstract Expressionism of his American contemporaries. Like Joe Downing, the other American painter well represented in the museum’s collections, Goetz explored the use of numerous media and materials (painting, drawing, engraving, pastels, parchment and vellum) with innovative techniques (carborundum engraving, heated pastels). These two artists had in common a taste for abstraction, while also sharing an emphasis on colours and materials.