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Steps toward Reality: Matthias Mansen in Conversation with John Tyson

Matthias Mansen, artist, and John A. Tyson, assistant professor of art, University of Massachusetts Boston. Born in 1958 in Ravensburg, Germany, Matthias Mansen studied painting with Georg Baselitz and Markus Lüpertz at Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe. Although he trained as a painter, Mansen shifted his focus exclusively to printmaking in the second half of the 1980s. He advances the tradition of woodblock printing by transforming pieces of scavenged wood into printing blocks, which he progressively carves and recarves, using them to create large-scale compositions. The special installation Matthias Mansen: Configurations, on view in the West Concourse Gallery from July 23 through December 13, 2017, presents 13 woodcuts from the collection of the National Gallery of Art. John Tyson curated the installation during his Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Gallery. In this conversation, held on September 24, 2017, Mansen and Tyson discuss the artist’s career, his distinctive process, and the impact of research—into subjects from cartography to the US Exploring Expedition—on his artworks. Mansen lives and works in Berlin.