Andrew Raftery: Open House Exhibition

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Andrew Raftery’s Open House is series of engravings representing a sequence of moments during a real estate open house. This body of work first made a splash about five or six years ago and has been much lauded by many in the art world. The Open House series is an unabashed tour de force.

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Here at Printersting, we’ve been a fan of Raftery’s work for some time, so it comes as no surprise to us that this body of work has been organized into a comprehensive museum exhibition, but our know-it-all smartypants-ness in no ways dampens our excitement to see  Andrew Raftery: Open House at the Fleming Museum of Art, University of Vermont. The exhibition, which is curated by Dr. Aimee Marcereau DeGalan, opened in September and will run through the 16th of this month. If you missed the exhibit, have no fear it’s traveling! First to the Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University, September 14-December 9th, 2012, and then on to Esther Massry Gallery at the College of Saint Rose, September 22-December 8, 2013 (if you have a suitable exhibition space and want the show to come to you, contact the folks at the Fleming). If you can’t make it to any of these venues, the catalog (examined toward the end of this post) is also available from the Fleming.

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I should also make clear before the jump, that what makes this exhibition so incredibly generous, is in fact not the engravings (which are amazing), but the way that Raftery allows us into his process/practice. On display are drawings, sketches.. and yes, scale models (!!), that Raftery developed in the two years prior to starting the actual engravings. Two Years! just working on form, structure, and composition.. and did I mention Scale Models! *I’m swooning here.*

Raftery 24See many more images of the exhibition, the catalog after the jump.

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Exhibition Raftery single-handedly reinvigorated several modalities that had been deemed uncool and untouchable, namely, the over-looked art of engraving, conceptually contemporary realism, and depicting intangible experiences, like the complicated, culturally-loaded economic exchange that is buying/selling a home; that this body of work arrived nearly simultaneously to the sub-prime mortgage collapse is merely a testament to the way artists’ can act as a cultural weathervane.

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From Dr. Aimee Marcereau DeGalan’s introductory essay in the catalog:

Raftery’s strong linear approach to the medium draws on the visual tradion of his 17th-century French academic forebears, including Robert Nanteuil, and Pierre Drevet. Their successors, including, Charles-Clement Bervic maintained the integrity and purity of the discipline during the French Revolution, despite advances in the development of printmaking, such as stipple engraving and etching. Raftery not only absorbed the visual lessons from these French forerunners and other master engravers including German printmakers, Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Durer…

And later, could read Raftery’s print series as an homage to the history of printmaking and printmakers considering the style of his prints, which recall 17th-century French Engravings, and at the subject matter, which recalls genre scenes depicted by 17th-century Flemish and 18th-century British artists, such as DAvid Teniers the Younger, and William Hogarth respectively. It is Raftery’s precision – not only as a master engraver, but as an observer of contemporary culture- that allows him to create art that pays homage to the history of printmaking while ensuring it’s status as a marker of the current socio-cultural climate; in the blending of old forms with new content, he creates a singular body of work.

I couldn’t have said it better.

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This exhibition could easily have stood alone as a showcase of the five engravings that comprise the Open House series, but the addition of the supporting drawings and related materials makes for a rich and generous viewing experience.

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In the catalog essay by the artist & art historian, Jonathan Weinberg does a close reading of the work, intermixing his research with interview material with the artist. While it’s entirely illuminating I don’t have room nor permission to reproduce it here, needless to say, if you are interested in this work, it’s worth tracking down a catalog for the insightful essay.

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For further viewing: here is an interview with Raftery on Rhode Island public TV, and in an interview in conjunction with the RISD Museum exhibition on Jacques Callot, and in a panel discussion with John Maeda among others.

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At the Fleming’s request, Raftery also included several engravings he made in response to The Brilliant Line: Following the Early Modern Engraver 1480-1650 exhibition at RISD.


The catalog is amazing!



As quoted above, there is a great introductory essay by Dr. Aimee Marcereau DeGalan, and a very, very astute essay by Jonathan Weinberg.


One aspect of Raftery’s work that is delightfully illuminated are the myriad of cultural references embedded in his work. These easter eggs make clear the way our objects serve as coded signifiers to those who come into our private spaces.



There is also step-by-step break down of the process that Raftery used to develop each image, combined with an excellent reproduction of the final print.

Totally amazing!




We can’t wait to see what Andrew Raftery will do next.

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Categories: Artists, Artwork, Exhibitions

10 Responses to “Andrew Raftery: Open House Exhibition”

  1. Kevin says:

    I want that catalog! Do you know if it’s only being sold at the museum?

  2. Amze says:

    Hi Kevin, I would assume so, but if you contact the museum maybe there is a way to have one sent to you.

  3. rene abythe says:

    Beautiful documentation.

  4. Jonathan says:

    I called the museum to buy a catalog. Their phone number is (802) 656-0750. $12 plus $7.95 shipping. That’s a lot for shipping, but cheaper than a plane ticket, and the catalog looks like it’s worth it. Thanks for this great article Printeresting.

  5. Andrew Raftery is a star!!

  6. Andrew Raftery says:

    Thanks Amze,

    Aimee and her team at UVM did a terrific job with the show. I am grateful to them and to all of you at Printeresting for what you do. It is wonderful to be part of your important forum.

  7. John Raftery says:

    John Raftery in Canada sends congratulations.

  8. Luther says:

    Yeah Andrew. Wish I could make it to the show

  9. Mary Lou says:

    Beautiful and interesting work. Thanks. Congratulations Andrew.