Printmaking techniques: traditional and innovative with Jeff Bergman, Director of Pace Prints
THE SPECTRUM OF PRINTMAKING TECHNIQUES SPANS A WIDE ARCH FROM THE TRADITIONAL TO THE INNOVATIVE. ETCHING, ENGRAVING, LITHOGRAPHY PRINTING PROCESSES HAVE EXPANDED EXPONENTIALLY THANKS TO TECHNOLOGY TO INCLUDE COMPUTER PRINTS, MYLAR LITHOGRAPHY, HELIO-RELIEFS AND MONOPRINTS. RATHER THAN SEEKING TO REPRODUCE ICONIC IMAGES OF ARTISTS’ PAINTINGS, PRINTMAKING IS AN ART FORM IN AND OF ITSELF. THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN MASTER PRINTER AND ARTIST OPENS UP CREATIVE DISCOVERIES THAT ONLY THE PROCESS ITSELF CAN INSPIRE. SILK-SCREEN PRINTING, IN PARTICULAR IN THE 60s AND 70s, BLURRED THE BOUNDARIES EVEN FURTHER WHEN SUCH ARTISTS AS ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG AND ANDY WARHOL EMPLOYED THE SILKSCREEN PROCESS TO CREATE UNIQUE WORKS ON CANVAS.
THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO CONTINUE ITS CONVERSATION WITH THE KNOWLEDGABLE AND ENGAGING JEFF BERGMAN, DIRECTOR AT PACE PRINTS.
JEFF, WELCOME BACK!
PRINTS OFFER AN EMERGING COLLECTOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO ACQUIRE WORKS BY ARTISTS OF KNOWN STATURE AND REPUTATION IN A MORE MODEST PRICE RANGE. DO YOU VIEW THAT AS A MOTIVATION FOR THE NASCENT COLLECTOR TO GRAVITATE TOWARDS PRINT EDITIONS RATHER THAN A UNIQUE WORK BY A LESS ESTABLISHED ARTIST?
Prints offer many things and the option of owning work by a big name artist for a relatively modest price is certainly at the top of collectors’ list. Works on paper convey a sense of intimacy that many large works (paintings per se) cannot. Hopefully a print collector can feel comfortable with the notion that the artist chose that specific image, and then proceeded to create 10 or 25 or 50 impressions. In my mind, that speaks volumes to the artist’s confidence in that image.
WHAT ARTISTS ARE CURRENTLY MAKING THE BEST PRINTS AND IN WHAT WAYS? HAVE PRINTMAKING TECHNIQUES STAYED WITHIN THE TRADITIONAL METHODOLOGY AND HOW HAS MODERN TECHNOLOGY AFFECTED THE ART OF PRINTMAKING?
The artist that pushes print making the furthest in recent years is Chuck Close. He continues to astound us all with the variety of techniques and the ways in which he uses traditional print making. Chuck’s print career is a study in what is possible in prints and multiples. His recent “felt hand stamp” prints (well illustrated and explained in Terrie Sultan’s Chuck Close Prints) is a slow and arduous process with remarkable results. He continues to make elaborate woodcuts, etchings and works that utilize digital resources.
Self-Portrait (2015) was created over three years from 24 blocks that were used to render the image in 84 colors. The exhibition will include a selection of these woodblocks and progressive proofs together with the published print.
Throughout his career, Chuck Close has used his own image as a creative vehicle for his exploration of painting techniques and styles. Self-Portrait (2015) represents a significantly different facial perspective from earlier self portraits.
THERE ARE ALSO, OF COURSE, REMARKABLE COLLECTIONS DEDICATED SOLELY TO MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY PRINTS. HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE PACE COLLECTORS? WHAT MOTIVATES A COLLECTOR TO FOCUS ON PRINTMAKING.
Our collectors range widely. We hope that whether they are buying large or small, no matter the expense, that they feel as though they have gained a direct connection with the artist and the image.
I believe a great print collector is someone who loves prints for what they are and appreciates the technique, but can also enjoy the image without the minutiae.
HAS THERE BEEN A SHIFT IN THE PRINT MARKET WITH THE ADVENT OF POPULARITY OF PHOTOGRAPHY THAT IS PRINTED AS A MULTIPLE, ALTHOUGH WITH MUCH MORE LIMITED NUMBERS IN AN EDITION?
The photography market tends to follow the methodology of using small editions. Print editions have also become smaller in recent years. Whether there is a direct correlation I am not sure.
PACE HAS A LEGENDARY REPUTATION FOR ITS COLLABORATION WITH ARTISTS. I HAVE HEARD THEM SPEAK OF THE EXPERIENCE IN TRANSFORMATIVE TERMS. THE MASTER PRINTER OPENS TECHNICAL AND AESTHETIC DOORWAYS AND INSPIRES THEIR WORK AND VISION WITH THE DIVERSITY OF TECHNIQUES AVAILABLE TO THEM.
ONE OF THE MOST DETAILED EXAMPLES OF THE INVALUABLE DIALOGUE BETWEEN MASTER PRINTER AND ARTIST DESCRIBING THE PRINTING PROCESS ON HAND-MADE PAPER IS DESCRIBED IN THE PACE PRINTS GLOSSARY. DANIEL HEIDKAMP’S HOLLOW SWALLOW, A RECENT MONOPRINT IS CURRENTLY ON VIEW IN THE GALLERY’S CONCURRENT SUMMER GROUP EXHIBITION SELECTIONS AT THE CHELSEA GALLERY AT 521 WEST 26TH STREET AND AT 32 EAST 57th STREET.
Pace Paper master papermaker Ruth Lingen works with artists to create unique and editioned work in the hand papermaking process. In preparation to creating an image, fibers are macerated in a specialized beater to specific lengths for their specific type of application. Once macerated into paper pulp, the substance can be used to create individual sheets of paper or, when macerated to a finer grade, can retain high levels of pigmentation and be used in more contemporary applications.
The number of applications of working in handmade paper is diverse. Pigmented paper pulp, coined pulp paint in the papermaking world, can be poured into openings in mylar stencils (on top of a wet base sheet substrate), building up one wet layer on top of another. In another technique entitled a “blow out”, images can be masked out directly on the papermaking mould and retain a silhouette directly in paper pulp. Watermarking is an application that can be used within the sheet of paper to create an image that is visible when light is shown through the paper. Once an image is created, the entire sheet with layer upon layer of pigmented pulp slowly goes through a hydraulic press, forcing the water to escape and allowing the fibers to form hydrogen bonds, which hold all layers of fibers together.
Paper pulp can also be used in a three-dimensional format. In a casting, paper pulp is packed directly into a rubber mold, allowed to dry, and will come out as a sculptural form.
WHAT ARE THE TECHNIQUES THAT ARE THE MOST WIDELY USED AND HOW ARE THEY DEFINED?
We currently have shops that focus on traditional Ukiyo-e woodcut printing, any relief print possibilities, intaglio, hand made and cast paper and occasionally screen printing and digital production.
Artists such as Chuck Close and Jim Dine expored a range of techniques in our shops and created iconic images. We are incredibly lucky to have had and continue to have the finest print makers in the world working with us at Pace. The artists immediately recognize that the people printing with them are able and active collaborators.
A GLOSSARY OF PRINT-MAKING TECHNIQUES:
The principle techniques of printmaking, with illustrated examples, all of which are practiced in the workshops of Pace Prints
IN OUR NEXT POST, JEFF WILL INFORM US ON THE MOST RECENT ACTIVITIES AT PACE PRINTS AND SHARE HIS ASTUTE PERSPECTIVE ON COLLECTIN IN TODAY’S PRINT MARKET. THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING OUR POSTS!