The art of the print with Jeff Bergman, director of Pace Prints
THE HISTORY OF PRINTMAKING DATES BACK AS EARLY AS THE 15th CENTURY. IN GERMANY, INDIVIDUAL PRINTS OFTEN DEPICTED RELIGIOUS IMAGES AND WERE CARRIED BY CRUSADERS ON PILGRIMAGE. FROM CIRCA 1402 TO 1425, THE FIRST PHASE OF THE WOODCUT DEVELOPED, HAND-COLORED AND INCREASINGLY COMPLEX IN WHICH SINGLE IMAGES ON A BLANK BACKGROUND EXPANDED TO INCLUDE LANDSCAPE AND ARCHITECTURAL ELEMENTS. IN 15th CENTURY ITALY, PARTICULARLY IN THE CULTURED NORTHERN CITIES, SUCH AS FLORENCE AND MILAN, THE RENAISSANCE MOVEMENT STIMULATED ARTISTS’ RECEPTIVITY TO EMBRACE PURELY AESTHETIC AND DECORATIVE CREATIVE PATHS.
TODAY, PRINTMAKERS NOT ONLY CONTINUE TO MAINTAIN THE LEGACY OF TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES BUT ALSO TO EXPLORE NEW INNOVATIVE PROCESSES AVAILABLE THROUGH MODERN TECHNOLOGY.
PACE PRINTS, LOCATED IN NEW YORK UPTOWN AT 32 EAST 57th STREET OFF MADISON AND IN CHELSEA AT 521 WEST 26th STREET, IS A WORLD-CLASS PUBLISHER AND DEALER FOR MODERN MASTER AND CONTEMPORARY PRINTS THAT IS A WORLD CLASS PRINT PUBLISHER AND GALLERY.
FOUNDED BY RICHARD SOLOMON, IN 1968, PACE PRINTS IS A EXCEPTIONAL RESOURCE FOR BOTH CONTEMPORARY AND MASTER PRINTS OFFERING AN EXTENSIVE ROSTER OF INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED ESTABLISHED AND CUTTING-EDGE ARTISTS. PRINT EDITIONS HAS ALWAYS PROVIDED THE ART ADVISOR AND COLLECTOR AN OPPORTUNITY TO ACQUIRE WORKS BY CONTEMPORARY LUMINARIES AS CHUCK CLOSE, SOL LEWITT, ED RUSCHA AND FRANK STELLA WITHIN MORE MODEST BUDGETARY PARAMETERS.
TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO INTRODUCE JEFF BERGMAN, DIRECTOR OF PACE PRINTS, TO INFORM US ABOUT THIS VITAL AREA OF ART-MAKING.
JEFF, MANY THANKS FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION. HOW DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN ART?
Well first off, thanks for involving me in your project!
I became interested in art as a child. My grandfather was a graphic artist for a Jewish Department Store in Midtown. I had been drawn to visual art from an early age but my formative experience with contemporary art was at The Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, CT. I was a student docent there in the mid-90’s when Harry Philbrick was running the program. He went on to run the Aldrich for many years. He and Nina Carlson trained high school age kids to really discuss the work they saw. We were grounded in the physical first and then went on to make our own associations. We were handed research materials like a grown up docent was and were given an education. I loved being in front of art and having those conversations. I still do.
WHAT EDUCATIONAL STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO DEVELOP THIS INTEREST?
Beyond the Aldrich, I went to a public HS that had a surprisingly good Art History course. After HS I went to Hampshire College in Amherst, MA and did a concentration in Art History and Theory, writing my thesis on Wassily Kandinsky’s text Point and Line to Plane. Hampshire allowed me to craft my own course of study. I took classes at Smith and Amherst often, utilizing resources at all 5 colleges.
Studying Kandinsky and the Bauhaus in an undergrad program alongside brilliant professors was a true gift. Sura Levine, a brilliant scholar and a good friend to this day, was my advisor from day 1. Hampshire had contemporary artists teaching innovative courses and I took a sprawling foundation class with Walid Raad, Jacqueline Hayden and Joan Braverman that introduced me to much of the art theory I would dive into over the next 4 years. We were told to buy the recently deceased John Berger’s slim treatise Ways of Seeing that first day of class.
Later I took courses with Barbara Kellum at Smith and Christoph Cox at Hampshire that allowed me to think more critically about the theory and critique of visual art. Ultimately I was happy to ground my studies in Kandinsky’s concrete notions at the birth of abstraction.
HAD YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN PRINTMAKING OR WERE YOU INITIALLY DRAWN TO PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURE? WHAT ARTISTS FIRST RESONATED WITH YOU AND HOW DO YOU EVALUATE THEM TODAY?
Printmaking was something I came to during college as I looked at the work of Bauhaus artists, and generally at the work of early 20th century art in Europe. Initially the work that really excited me was Kandinsky’s which was always on view at the Guggenheim and MoMA and then Sol LeWitt at the Aldrich and Mark Rothko at the Tate (now Tate Britain).
My good friend Katie Commodore who is an artist and printmaker was always kind enough to let me see what she was working on at RISD so I got a sense of contemporary printmaking that way.
IN THE NEXT LRFA POST, JEFF WILL INFORM US OF HIS PROFESSIONAL HISTORY AS CURATOR, SCHOLAR AND DEALER IN PRINTS.
PLEASE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIS EXPERTISE AND DEDICATION TO THIS FIELD, AND ASK THIS GENEROUS GUY ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE.