Metropolitan Museum of Art curators William M. Ivins and A. Hyatt Mayor assembled one of the world's greatest collections of prints, from Renaissance masterpieces to popular and ephemeral works. Celebrating the power of prints not only as aesthetic objects but also as rich sociohistorical documents and peerless tools of communication, Ivins and Mayor expanded our appreciation of prints as the most democratic art form: functional, cost-effective works that disseminate information and bring pleasure to a wide audience. Their populist approach—collecting across the full spectrum of the medium, from the exquisite to the everyday, and writing about prints in accessible language—delivered prints from the province of scholars and collectors to the general public and transformed notions of how art reaches the masses.
The first comprehensive exploration of the lives, careers, theories, and influence of Ivins and Mayor, this book also showcases more than 125 exceptional prints that represent the breadth and depth of their acquisitions, including works by Mantegna, Düaut;rer, Callot, Rembrandt, Goya, Whistler, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Cassatt. Included in this volume are biographical essays elucidating the two curators' achievements and catalogue entries that quote Ivins's and Mayor's pithy remarks about the featured artworks. The Power of Prints is a fitting tribute to the groundbreaking work of two scholars who revolutionized the study of a vast area of art history.