Category Archives: printmaking

Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait

By Deborah Wye (2017)
Published in conjunction with an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, this catalog presents more than 270 prints and books, organized thematically, and includes an essay that traces Bourgeois’ involvement with these mediums within the broader developments of her life and career. It also emphasizes the collaborative relationships that were so fundamental to these endeavors. Included are interviews with Bourgeois’ longtime assistant, a printer she worked with side-by-side at her home/studio on 20th Street in New York and the publisher who, in the last decade of her life, encouraged her to experiment with innovative prints that broke the traditional boundaries of the medium. The volume is rounded out with a chronology and bibliography that focus on prints and illustrated books while also providing general background on Bourgeois’ life and art.

Link to MoMA online archive: Louise Bourgeois: The Complete Prints & Books

Posted in art, biography, exhibition, feminism, interview, printmaking

Art for Every Home: Associated American Artists, 1934–-2000

Edited by Elizabeth G. Seaton and Jane Myers (2015)
This highly original study offers the first comprehensive, critical overview of a company that expanded the audience for American prints, ceramics, and textiles throughout the 20th century.

Link to Illustrated Index of Associated American Artists Prints, Ceramics, and Textile Designs: AAA Index

Posted in art, culture, design, exhibition, history, printmaking

Engraving and Etching, 1400-2000: A History of the Development of Manual Intaglio Printmaking Processes

By Ad Stijnman (2012)
This book surveys the history of the techniques of engraving, etching and plate printing – i.e. that of manual intaglio printmaking processes – from its beginning in the 1430s until today. These developments are observed in the light of the coherence between the technique of the intaglio print (such as its materials and methods of production); the ‘style’ or outward appearance of the print; the creator of the print; and the fashion typical of a particular social group, place and time. Economic, educational and social aspects are discussed, as well as the worldwide dissemination of the trade of intaglio printmaking.

The author shows how intaglio printmaking developed steadily from the mid-fifteenth century, with the invention of the roller press and the etching of printing plates. By 1525 intaglio printmaking techniques could be said to have reached maturity and spread east and west following the European trade routes and colonisation. Further developments in plate-making resulted from a series of inventions and reinventions. After the abolition of the guilds on the European continent around 1800, and the introduction of photography and the expansion of the graphic industry, the engraving of images became a mere mechanical procedure. The handcrafted print made way for the large-scale mechanised graphic industry which emerged in the middle of the nineteenth century. Consequently artist-etchers withdrew to an elite position to concentrate on the manual aspects of printmaking, which is the situation today.

Posted in art, history, media, printmaking, technology

The Brilliant Line: Following the Early Modern Engraver, 1480-1650

Edited by Emily J. Peters with contributions by Evelyn Lincoln and Andrew Stein Raftery (2009)
Renaissance engravings are objects of exquisite beauty and incomparable intricacy that are composed entirely of lines. Artists began using this intaglio process in Europe as early as 1430. This captivating catalogue focuses on the height of the medium, from 1480 to 1650, when engravers made dramatic and rapid visual changes to engraving technique as they responded to the demands of reproducing artworks in other media. The Brilliant Line follows these visual transformations and offers new insight into the special inventiveness and technical virtuosity of Renaissance and Baroque (Early Modern) engravers. The three essays discuss how engraving’s restrictive materials and the physical process of engraving informed its visual language; the context for the spread of particular engraving styles throughout Europe; and the interests, knowledge, and skills that Renaissance viewers applied when viewing and comparing engravings by style or school.

Posted in art, exhibition, history, media, printmaking

The Gutenberg Revolution: How Printing Changed the Course of History

By John Man (2009)
In 1450, all Europe’s books were handcopied and amounted to only a few thousand. By 1500, they were printed and numbered in their millions. The invention of Johann Gutenberg had caused a revolution: printing by movable type. Born in 1400 in Mainz, Germany, Gutenberg struggled against a background of plague and religious upheaval to bring his remarkable invention to light. His story is full of paradoxes: his ambition was to reunite all Christendom, but his invention shattered it; he aimed to make a fortune, but was cruelly denied the fruits of his life’s work. Yet history remembers him as a visionary; his discovery marks the beginning of the modern world.

Posted in culture, design, history, language, media, printmaking, technology, typography

Paths to the Press: Printmaking and American Women Artists, 1910-1960

Edited by Elizabeth Seaton (2006)
In 1910 Bertha Jaques co-founded the Chicago Society of Etchers and helped launch a revival of American fine art printmaking. In the decades following, women artists produced some of the most compelling images in U.S. printmaking history and helped advance the medium technically and stylistically. Paths to the Press examines American women artists’ contributions to printmaking in the U.S. during the early to mid twentieth century.

Posted in art, biography, exhibition, feminism, history, printmaking

The Print in the Western World: An Introductory History

By Linda Hults (1996)
While teaching the history of the print, Hults felt constrained by the lack of a scholarly chronological introduction to the matter. Her solution: the creation of this well-organized, exhaustively researched volume, which may well become a bible in its field. Her subject isn’t limited to technical aspects of printed media (woodcuts, etching, engraving, drypoint, aqua- and mezzotints, lithographs, silk-screens, etc.). She also examines the cultural and economic forces behind each medium as it developed, the personal goals of individual artists and cultural events influencing their times. From Christian souvenirs at early pilgrim sites to Communist agitprop; from prints made for renaissance patrons to mass editions marketed to the middle and lower classes of the industrial age, Hults treats (and illustrates) them all. The book is meticulously annotated and indexed and incorporates commentary from other art historians. Female artists and writers are also given their due. Beyond the overwhelming scholarship, this is a work to be read. Hults’s prose has a clarity, rhythm and range of shading that complement the prints she describes.

Posted in art, history, media, printmaking

Printmaking in America: Collaborative Prints and Presses, 1960-1990

Edited by Trudy Hansen (1995)
Curators Hansen, Joann Moser, David Mickenberg, and Barry Walker chronicle the growth of American printmaking from early utilitarian works through the establishment of printmaking as a fine art. The work describes developments in technique but more importantly addresses the complex, cooperative process that was born in innovative printshops such as the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles. Mickenberg’s chapter on nonprofit and university-affiliated workshops provides refreshing insight into how the financial support of large foundations helped found the nonprofit printshops. Not only did such workshops pool the talents of printmakers, but they helped create new markets for what had previously been considered a dying art. The authors also attribute the rebirth of printmaking in the United States to several women and minority artists and printers; however, the most recognized prints, created by the likes of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, have not been overlooked.

Posted in art, education, exhibition, history, printmaking

Prints and Visual Communication

By William Ivins (1969)
The sophistication of the photographic process has had two dramatic results–freeing the artist from the confines of journalistic reproductions and freeing the scientist from the unavoidable imprecision of the artist’s prints. So released, both have prospered and produced their impressive nineteenth- and twentieth-century outputs. It is this premise that William M. Ivins, Jr., elaborates in Prints and Visual Communication, a history of printmaking from the crudest wood block, through engraving and lithography, to Talbot’s discovery of the negative-positive photographic process and its far reaching consequences.

Posted in art, history, media, photography, printmaking, technology