Artwork Information

  • Title:


  • Artist:

    Ecker, Robert

  • Artist Bio:

    American, 1936–2017

  • Date:


  • Medium:


  • Dimensions:

    2 x 2 inches

  • Credit Line:

    Wichita Art Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. William G. Wagner

  • Object Number:


  • Display:

    Not Currently on Display

About the Artwork

Attracted to the dramatic light-dark contrasts of mezzotint print and to the idea of an intimate image, Robert Ecker began working in the mezzotint medium in 1977. The artist relates his fascination with the mezzotint to a period of psychological turmoil in his personal life, a kind of “mid-life crisis.” Apart from the necessity to appear at school to teach his classes, Ecker withdrew to his studio and to the inner life of the self. He found the preparation of the mezzotint surface—the laborious, rhythmic activity of working the rocker over the copper plate—to be therapeutic. The automatic labor of the hand freed his imagination to engage in reflection and invention.

Ecker’s mezzotints provide a vivid metaphor of a troubled and obsessive state of mind. The small scale of his imagery, particularly the miniature format of the two-inch square, forces the viewer to engage in a solitary, concentrated act of looking. The world into which one peers is like a secluded corner of the mid, for the locale is unknown, dark, and without specific boundaries. In some pieces, such as Melancholia II, a single motif fills all the pictorial space and in other images, such as the Dark Glasses series, a single object looms out of a silent void. The artist engaged in a surrealistic process of free association, combining objects from his immediate environment with motifs from art historical sources to discover new relationships of form and meaning. Carefully positioned, the apple and “snake eyes” of the dice in Eve evokes the fateful conjunction of sex, knowledge, and The Fall from biblical history.