How to Love a Print
Part One of a two-part blog post on the appreciation of the fine art of Printmaking.
Even for many avid art-lovers, the understanding of printmaking and its role in the portfolios of some of our favorite artists is something of a mystery. Hopefully this blog post will at least begin to unravel this mystery for readers, while giving those who enjoy collecting art an avenue for expanding your collection without breaking your bank. While there is a myriad of different types of printmaking, one exciting aspect of the art form is the fact that with the creation of the printmaker’s plate comes the benefit of multiple originals.
When I buy art, one of the reasons I am willing to spend more for an original painting is that I value the fact that it is the actual creation, fresh from the artist’s hands, so to speak. There is a spirit and vibrance that exists in original art that simply can’t be duplicated by mass produced objects. However, when it comes to printmaking, one of the advantages of the medium is that the artist is creating an edition of original works, or duplicate originals. Each copy contains that magic “touch” of the artist’s hand, yet because there are multiple copies of the piece, it stands to reason that it can be purchased more economically.
It seems to be part of our culture that when we think of what it means to be an “artist”, we get an image in our heads of a person working with brushes and paints on an easel. Even though this is an accurate depiction, it is incomplete. I can’t help but to think of some of my favorite artists and the fact that they spent much time at the press as well as the easel. I love the prints of Dali, Chagall, Picasso, Matisse and Degas and many others. Exhibits of their etchings, woodcuts and monoprints have been extremely inspiring to me over the years. (Below: a linocut and an etching done by Picasso)
In spite of how complicated some aspects of the art may be, printmaking can be a very playful and experimental way to create. Before making an edition of prints, an artist creates a “proof”, which is a preview of the final print textures, etc. for a single image. In fact, the pulling of a print is often just the beginning of the final artwork, as many artists use other media ( paint, colored pencil, collage) to enhance their piece. Printmaking can allow artists to use their imaginations and to express a single image in a variety of ways. As buyers, we have the opportunity to enjoy works that reveal much about the artist’s thought process, if we know what we’re looking for.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post called “Printmaking 101”.