Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College
87 North Main Street, Oberlin, OH 44074


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A Passion for Prints: Works from the Elesh Collection

January 2 - May 26, 2024
In Ripin Gallery

A Passion for Prints: Works from the Elesh Collection

January 2 - May 26, 2024
In Ripin Gallery

Virtual Tour

In the early 1960s, James Elesh (OC 1964) was a student at Oberlin College, with the renowned art historian Wolfgang Stechow (1896–1974) as one of his mentors. Stechow was a scholar of Northern Renaissance and Baroque art and a professor at the College, devoting much of his research to Dutch landscape artists and the graphic works of Albrecht Dürer. While Elesh was a student, Stechow encouraged him to extensively study various states of Rembrandt’s prints to develop a connoisseur’s eye. Through Stechow’s mentorship, Elesh sharpened his interpretive abilities in the graphic medium and developed a passion for studying and collecting art.

James Elesh has spent nearly 60 years collecting and searching for print impressions of the highest quality from such artists as James Ensor, Käthe Kollwitz, Marc Chagall, Lovis Corinth, and Max Beckmann, among others. This exhibition features 19 prints that Elesh and his wife Pam have generously donated to the Allen Memorial Art Museum over the span of 53 years. Many of these are self-portraits, landscapes, or vivid compositions interpreting the horrors of war and the anguish of human loss. These are accompanied by eight additional prints from the Allen’s collection by Renaissance, Baroque, and Romantic-era artists who were an integral part of Wolfgang Stechow’s pedagogy and James Elesh’s education at Oberlin College, and one work that was a gift to the museum in honor of both Stechow and Elesh. All attest to the importance of close looking and the potential for lifelong learning sparked by a liberal arts education.

James Ensor (Belgian, 1860–1949), Le mort poursuivant le troupeau des humains, 1896. Drypoint and etching. Gift of Pamela and James Elesh (OC 1964) in honor of Andria Derstine, 2018.10.
Max Beckmann (German, 1884–1950), Königin Bar (Self-Portrait), 1920, published 1921. Drypoint. Gift of Pamela and James Elesh (OC 1964) in honor of Stephanie Wiles, 2011.12.1.

Organized by

Marlise Brown

Assistant Curator of European and American Art


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