The exhibition of the work of Anna Metz (born in Rotterdam in 1939) covers the whole of her output, from her first prints made during the 1960s to the polychrome etchings of wooded landscapes executed by her last summer after a journey to Spain.
The display focuses more intensively on the work of the past twenty-five years. Metz had to support a family of three children financially and thus did not really find her own way until the 1990s, when she was over fifty. When her children became independent, she was able to experiment more with the technique of etching. At that time her work became more graphic than autobiographical. The view of a stretch of sea or sand, a fence, a bush or an old garment can inspire a print in which the motif soon gives way to the artist’s ‘adventure’ with the plate and acid.
Anna Metz explores etching in a remarkably free and unorthodox manner, reminiscent of the approach of her model Hercules Segers in the seventeenth century. She sometimes deliberately allows the acid to bite into a metal plate until it collapses. In addition, she adds scraps of paper, textile and aluminium foil to the base in her search for a unique impression. The result of this is that the differences inherent in the same edition are sometimes so great that it would be difficult to guess that the impressions all come from the same plate.
What starts as a landscape or a still-life soon follows its own particular path while it is being printed, transforming itself into a delicate combination of forms, colours and textures. Anna Metz likes chance to play its part. Still it is she who chooses which of the accidental elements to keep or discard. Those retained, she ‘showcases’ in her work.
Curiously enough, after all the acid baths and the stages of printing, after all the experiments and leaving things to chance, most of the etchings still (or once again) evoke the landscape or still-life that first inspired Anna Metz to start work. ‘I think you have to be completely impregnated by a subject to be able to detach yourself from it’, she says. ‘All the same, I never produce the image I originally planned; in general, I showcase the opportunities the image offers me. It can turn out much larger than the idea I had of it at the outset.’
Fondation Custodia – Collection Frits Lugt
121, rue de Lille
75007 Paris, France