Collagraph inspiration

Origins of collagraph printing

There is no exact date for the beginnings of collagraph printing. It evolved alongside other intaglio and relief printing, particularly with the move towards abstraction, introduction of ‘found’ materials and use of collage and mixed media in 1950s and 1960s. It was also helped by the widespread availability of new, cheap materials like acrylics and very strong adhesives.

First experiments

Pierre Roche – sculptor developed gypsographic printing using bas-relief plaster engraving – inked in relief and printed by hand onto dampened paper, leaving a slightly raised blind embossing. Later he added layers of an adhesive called gypsum onto metal plate for an embossed effect.

Google images for Pierre Roche collagraph

Bauhaus: Klee, Picasso, Braque, Schwitters and Moholy-Nagy used collage materials and this was adopted by printmakers.

Rolf Nesch: one of the first artists to have consciously used collage to create collagraph printing plates. He gave depth and texture to prints by soldering out metal shapes and wire to metal printing plates. He then took this further by drilling holes in plates and sewing to the base plate. The prints were so deep he hneeded 8 blankets to get the right pressure and very heavy strong paper.

For more details on the work of Rolf Nesch, click here.

William Hayter developed viscosity printing – a technique that allowed a single printing plate to be printed in many colours. The basic principle is that the viscosity or stickiness of an ink can be reduced by adding linseed oil. A stiff viscous ink will absorb and mix with an oily ink laid over the top. But if an ink full of oil is placed on the plate first, it will reject a dry viscous ink and will not mix with it.

Google images for William Hayter collagraph

Richard Hamilton mixed painting with forms of printmaking, such as collotype, lithograph and silkscreen.

Google images for Richard Hamilton collagraph

Joan Miro created numerous collagraphs combining carborundum, aquatint and etching.

Google images for Miro collagraph

Henry Moore used collograph and resist techniques in versions of his drawings

Google images for Henry Moore collograph

Contemporary Collagraph

Brenda Hartill has been very influential in UK, building on Hayter’s techniques of viscosity printing.

Click here for more details of Hartill’s work

See Logbook 4 pp 6-7 for discussion of some of her collagraph prints.

Hughie O-Donoghue produces large abstract figures using acrylic and carborundum

Click here for more details of O’Donoghue’s work

See Logbook 4 pp10-11 for discussion of some of his prints and paintings.

Other collagraph artists:

Katie Jones  Logbook 4 Collagraph p8

Helga Thomson Logbook 4 Collagraph p8

Mari French Logbook 4 Collagraph p9

Tessa Horrocks Logbook 4 Collagraph p9

Kim Major George Logbook 4 Collagraph p12

Jet James Logbook 4 Collagraph p12

Laurie Rudlin Logbook 4 Collagraph p12

Marlene Groinic Logbook 4 Collagraph p14-15

Diane Bamford Logbook 4 Collagraph p15

 

 

Monoprint inspiration

 History and development

Hercules Seghers (1589-1638), a Dutch painter and printmaker, was one of the early artists who experimented with printing in color, on unusual papers (and linen), and with unusual horizontal formats to emphasize the horizon,  called. He experimented by using different inks and papers, but reworked his prints by adding accents by hand. Most of his images differ widely from impression to impression, and most are preserved in only a few sheets.

Rembrandt in the 1650s often retouched his plates with drypoint, burin or by burnishing areas to delete some unwanted parts. He also inked and wiped the plate each time differently, reworking some areas by moving around the ink with rags, fingers or paintbrushes. This enabled him to render flames, smoke and rich areas of shadow,  creating dramatic darkness and light contrasts. Each impression was virtually different from the previous one.

Benedetto Castiglione (1609-1664) devised a new printmaking process by drawing images directly onto an unetched plate and then pulling a unique impression; he drew white lines with a stick, created tonal areas with his fingers, rugs and brushes, then printed the plate using a press, just like we do today.

William Blake (1757–1827) started experimenting with monotypes. He painted with oil and egg tempera onto a copperplate or piece of millboard from which he pulled prints by pressing the dampened paper against the paint. He then retouched his works by hand with ink and watercolor. Some of the monotypes were used as a guide for overpainting in another media.

But the medium failed to become popular because of its limitation to one print and also because it depended too much on accidental effects and uncontrollable properties of ink when subjected to the heavy pressure of a press.

In the late 1860s when the young impressionists became interested in the creative use of inking. These printing experiments seem to have been influenced by early developments of photography with its black and white contrasts and interplay of positive and negative imagery.

Edgar Degas (1834-1917) found monoprints gave him a great deal of artistic freedom. He used the ‘dark field’ method and created very dramatic chiaroscuro effects. 

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) was one of the artists who became interested in monoprinting after Degas exhibited his prints in the third Impressionist exhibition of 1877.  Through experimentation and accidents he created a series of unique impressions, turning his imperfections to his advantage to create effects of light and texture.

Camille Pissarro Vacherie le soir, c. 1890 Monotype in warm black on wove paper sheet
From Wikipedia

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) worked independently developing his own unique technique called trace monotype. His method consisted of inking a sheet of paper, laying another sheet over it, and drawing on the back of fresh paper thus transferring the ink creating an image in a linear manner. Paul Klee (1879-1940) experimented and mastered this method a few years later in his inventive drawings.

Maurice Prendergast (1859-1924) used this method extensively. He was  influenced by Japanese prints. He described his way of making monotypes : “Paint on copper in oils, wiping parts to be white. When the picture suits you, place Japanese paper on it and either press in a printing press or rub with a spoon till it pleases you. Sometimes the second or third plate is the best.”

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) produced hundreds of richly colored monotypes pressing the paper by hand or with a roller on a previously inked and painted metal plate.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Chagall, Miro’, Dubuffet, Matisse and many other contemporary artists produced hundreds of exceptional monotypes, too.

Contemporary Monoprints

Georg Baselitz

Tracey Emin.

Sources

http://www.monoprints.com/history.php?PHPSESSID=787ea8eb30503093980f9d647feb644e

Linocut Inspiration

Linoleum was invented in the early 1860s and first used for printing in 1890 in Germany for the manufacture of wallpaper. By the early 20th century it had been popularized for artists’ prints. Linocut gained particular favour in poorer cultures that were less inhibited by a tradition of fine printing. In revolutionary Russia important linocuts were produced from about 1918. In Canada in the 1920s and 1930s the linocut was more common than the woodcut.

Linocut artists have been influenced by earlier woodcut traditions, including Japanese woodcut traditions and and also geometric forms and abstraction from African and Oceanic art. Linocut artists like the Grosvenor School and Lyubov Popova (see below) have also been influence by major art movements of the twentieth century, particularly cubism, futurism and constructivism. The possibility for dynamic mark-making and bold shapes with simplified colour make lino very well suited for this type of design.

Linocut artists used many of the techniques earlier developed for woodcut – both markmaking and use of tone and structure. But they also developed new directions with Picasso’s use of the reduction linocut (that can also be done with any other surface like wood). Linocut artists became particularly interested in dynamic shapes and use of colour influenced by Futurism.

Later prejudice grew up against linoleum block printing, as suitable only for children, amateurs and the uncultured. The linocut’s popularity also fell with the rise of commercial collaboration between printmaker and publisher, which encouraged more technically complex media.

But recently there has been a resurgence of interest in linocut as an art form. It is a key part of the many printmaking courses as an easier introduction to relief printing than woodcut. It has therefore become widely used for things like greetings cards. But there are also contemporary linocut artists doing innovative work – including very large pieces that exploit its potential for being cut into smaller blocks and because of its relatively light weight. There has been development of a wide range surface etching and texturing techniques using different tools.

Nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Franz Ciceck

An Austrian artist and teacher popularised the material for artists’ prints. He recognised the medium’s potential to instruct children in colour and design: it was cheap, easily worked with simple tools, adaptable to water-based inks, and versatile. Cižek toured Europe and North America with examples by his pupils and influenced art education worldwide.

German Expressionists  1905-1920s

The first major artist to adopt linocut as a medium was Erich Heckel, and his earliest linocut is dated 1903. In his Frog Queen (1905) linoleum’s lack of grain bias is evident in the perpendicular clusters of gouge strokes.

Artists from Die Brucke regularly used linocut instead of woodcut from 1905 to 1920s. These focused on bold shapes and expressive distortion in monochrome prints. The use of lino was ideal for this, although the fine lines and use of woodgrain etxture in some of the woodcuts was not possible.

Click here for overview of German Expressionist woodcuts

Google images for Expressionist linocuts

Google images for Erich Heckel linocuts

This German Expressionist tradition has been continued by modern artists like Georg Baselitz who produces very large linocuts and combination prints often on subjects of political protest.

Click here for overview of the work of Georg Baselitz

Matisse

Matisse executed 70 linocuts between 1938 and 1952. These are similar in both style and subject matter to his black and white monoprints of figures. They are executed on lino in a fluent white-line technique, taking evident advantage of the smooth passage of the knife through the soft material and the variation in expressive line that can be achieved.

Click here for overview of Matisse’s work as printmaker and artist

Click here for Google images of Matisse linocuts

Picasso

Picasso used linoleum for popular posters in the early 1950s. In 1959 he began a series of innovative colour linocuts, developing the reduction print technique. He developed a method of printing in different colours progressive states cut on a single block, so that the finished print comprises layered impressions of all the states.

Click here for overview of Picasso’s work as printmaker and artist

Click here for Google images of Picasso linocuts

Lyubov’ Popova

Lyubov Popova was a Russian avant-garde and ‘new woman’ artist (Cubist, Suprematist and Constructivist) painter and designer. She produced a number of linocuts in constructivist style.

Click here of overview of Popova’s work

Click here for Google images of Popova’s linocuts

Grosvenor School

Gaudier Brzewska

Edward Wadsworth

Claude Flight (1881–1955)

The most important British advocate of the linocut. He taught linocut from 1925 at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London and emphasized its accessibility to the proletariat. His images are very dynamic with strong curvature distortion.

Click here for overview of Flight’s work

Click here for Google images of Flight’s linocuts

Sybil Andrews

Click here for overview of Andrews’ work

Click here for Google images of Andrews’ linocuts

Lil Tschudi

Click here for overview of Tschudi’s work

Click here for Google images of Tschudi’s linocuts

Cyril Power

Click here for overview of Power’s work

Click here for Google images of Power’s linocuts

The work of the Grosvenor School has also influenced some contemporary linocut artists like the Canadian Gary Ratushniak who was trained by Sybil Andrews draws also on native America traditions.

Click here for overview of work of Gary Ratushniak

Click here for Google images of Ratushniak’s linocuts

Edward Bawden

Edward Bawden is another English artist and illustrator who often worked in watercolour, but also produced many linocuts. His work is more figurative and many of his paintings are from his experience as war artist in the Second World War.

Click here for overview of Bawden’s work

Click here for Google images of Bawden’s linocuts

US Civil Rights Movement

Linocuts were very popular as effective and cheap media for mass communication by African American artists involved in the American Civil Rights movement. Influenced by both African and Mexican art they depicted images of racial and sexual issues. Key proponents were:

Margaret Borroughs

Elizabeth Catlett

Contemporary linocut

Some of the sources I have looked at (in alphabetical order). For images and more detailed discussion see Logbook 2: Linocut at page references given below.

Richard Bosman

Emma Bradford

Helen Brown

Lynda Burke

Borge Carlson

Angela Cavaglieri

Katarzyna Cyganic

Otto Feil

Jess Freeman

Christine Koch

Rudolf Koch

Hans Larsen

Albert Masri

Ladislav Rusek

Monoprint Techniques

Monoprints and monotypes

A monoprint is a single impression of an image made from a reprintable block. It  involves the transfer of ink from a plate to the paper, canvas, or other surface that will ultimately hold the work of art. Monoprints are known as the most painterly method among the printmaking techniques; it is essentially a printed painting. The beauty of this medium is in its spontaneity and its combination of printmaking, painting and drawing media. Monoprints may also involve elements that change, where the artist reworks the image in between impressions or after printing so that no two prints are absolutely identical. Monoprints may include collage, hand-painted additions, and a form of tracing by which thick ink is laid down on a table, paper is placed on top and is then drawn on, transferring the ink onto the paper. Monoprints can also be made by altering the type, color, and pressure of the ink used to create different prints.

  • monotyping: plates have no permanent marks that will impart any definition to successive prints. Imagery is dependent on one unique inking, resulting in one unique print. At most two impressions (copies) can be obtained
  • monoprinting:  plates have permanent features on them that can be reused, but not to produce an identical result. Monoprints can be thought of as variations on a theme, with the theme resulting from some permanent features being found on the plate – lines, textures – that persist from print to print. Variations are confined to those resulting from how the plate is inked prior to each print. The variations are endless, but certain permanent features on the plate will tend to persist from one print to the next.

 History and development

Castiglione

Degas

Contemporary monoprint inspiration

Materials

Plates can be of any type, as long as they are non porous: plexiglass or thin sheets of metal such as copper or zinc, heavyweight vinyl, mylar or acetate, masonite, discarded thin litho zinc or aluminium plates, cardboard sealed with gesso or acrylic spray or glue, glass (only used when handprinting), styrofoam, polystyrene

Ink  can use water-based or oil-based inks, or paints. Other media can also be combined at different stages of the image.

Paper  can use thin or thick papers, watercolour paper, and cheaper papers like newsprint etc

Applicators  brushes, rollers, sticks, rags etc

Techniques

Painterly approaches

Rolling the ink onto a plate and then removing it with different types of markmaking, or applying the ink like paint. Monoprints can be created also by using water-soluble materials such as watercolors, crayons, watercolor pencils, watercolor felt tip pens or commercially produced monoprint inks (Akua-Kolor, Createx or Green Drop Inks).

Prior to drawing, the plate to be used (usually plexiglass) needs to be finely sanded and the edges bevelled. This will allow color to fix better on the plate and make drawing much easier. Using a sponge or small brayer apply a thin even coat of hand soap to the entire printing surface and allow it to dry. The soap will perform as a releasing agent and allow the colors to lift during printing.
Draw directly onto the surface of the plate with the water-soluble materials, letting the color dry for a few hours prior to printing. The paper to print on should be damp, but not excessively wet unless you want the colors to “run”. When printing, the moisture in the paper will reactivate the drawing materials, allowing for the transfer of the color to the paper. Run the plate through the press with moderate to heavy pressure. This will give you the best impression. Prior to removing the printed image. Check the impression quality by lifting the corner of the print and checking the image. If the impression is not satisfactory, lightly spray/sponge the back of the paper with water and run it through the press again. Repeat this until the image is of acceptable quality.

Projects:

First Monoprints

Markmaking: 1.1 First Monoprints

Human Form: 1.1 First Monoprints

Inspiration:  Castiglione   Degas

Masking

Using thin plastic or paper shapes to produce positive and negative space images in one or more colours.

Projects:

Coloured silhouettes: 1.2 Masked Monoprint

The Miner’s Wife: 1.2 Masked Monoprint

Inspiration: Matisse cut-outs

Trace drawing

Also known as back-drawing or back-tracing. Inking up a plate and then drawing on the back of the paper with different instruments to produce a line and shading- pencils for sharp lines, flat or soft objects for tone. This gives a very angular and nervous line. There is no limit to the number of times you can back-drawn a print and different colours and textures can be built up.

Projects:

The Human Figure and Portraits: 1.3 Back Drawing

Inspiration: Gauguin, Klee, Tracey Emin

Textured prints

Using textured materials to make marks in the ink and/or act as a mask between the ink and the paper.

Collage monoprint: materials are not glued on the surface but are used on the paper either inked or not inked (only used to produce embossments on paper). Materials often used are cut or torn shapes from textured papers, lace, cloth, thin vinyl sheets, leaves, and even metal grating.

Special effects can also be achieved dabbing solvents such as mineral spirits or turpentine to your inked plate, allowing the solvent to dissolve the ink so as to create beautiful reticulate marks.

 

Projects:

Rockpools1: 1.4 Textured Monoprints

Combination monoprints

All these techniques can be combined in different ways to produce

Project:

Images of St Ives: 1.4 Combination Monoprints

Inspiration

Linocut techniques

Type of relief print in which the artist cuts the design into linoleum as the printing surface, using gouges and knives.

Linocuts resemble woodcuts, although the softness and lack of grain of linoleum, which permit the artist to cut fluently in every direction, deprive cuts of the vigour and bias often seen in woodcuts. As fine networks of printing lines tend to crumble in linoleum, broader effects are usually sought. As the surface of linoleum is smooth, unless specially treated, it will not print with a texture that is visible in some woodcuts. The slickness of linoleum can produce a distinctive curdled effect in broadly inked areas, as seen in the Frog Queen (1905) by Erich Heckel; in this print linoleum’s lack of grain bias is evident.

Types of lino

Linoleum is a man-made sheet flooring composed primarily of oxidized linseed oil and ground cork. Battleship linoleum, a variety c. 6 mm thick, is frequently recommended, as is Desk-top, a thinner sheet. With the advent of synthetic floorings, linoleum became less easily available. In the late 20th century it was no longer produced in the USA but was manufactured in Scotland and commonly sold only in artists’ shops. For printmaking, linoleum may be mounted on to plywood, to produce a block that can be printed mechanically.

Type-high linoleum blocks can easily be printed with type and have been used in book illustration. Because sheet linoleum weighs relatively little and can be printed by hand, it has been used for exceptionally large printed images. Because linocuts are so easily printed by hand, they have been favoured by many artists who personally produce very small editions, although mechanically printed editions of as many as 25,000 are reported (Yeaton, p. 21). Since linoleum lends itself to broad effects, it is particularly adapted to multicolour printing, usually with a separate block for each colour.

The image

Choosing an image

The important thing here is to pay attention to design – strong tones, simple shapes, patterns and textures.

See Design elements and principles

Masks can be used over portions of the image, parts of the image can be hand-coloured. Blocks can also be rotated in different colours or tones to make abstract images.

Planning the image

It is likely that any sketch will need to be adjusted or simplified to make a good linocut image. To simplify the shapes, adjust the edges and clarify the movement of the eye though the image. It is very useful to do Notan structure drawings to check the underlying tonal structure and dominant shapes.

Images can be constructed through positive and/or negative shapes. Linocuts can be mostly cut away to leave lines on paper background, or mostly the colour of the ink. Or a combination of the two. It is worth experimenting with reversing the tonal values to explore different interpretations of an image.

Lino is a direct printing process so the image will be reversed when printed. It is useful to check the design through using a mirror.

This can be done using white chalk on black paper, experimenting with different marks to simulate linocut marks. Black and white collage can also be useful.

It is particularly useful to do this digitally using a programme on the iPad like Procreate. This enables you to design specific brushes that mimic linocut tools and freely and quickly experiment with different versions, interpretations and colours of a design.

Transferring the image onto the lino

Tracing paper or a lightbox can be used to help reverse the image.

This can be done using tracing paper and a soft pencil, or carbon paper. Or simply drawing on.

It is useful also to go over the black areas with pencil or inl and brush so that the cuts will be clearly seen.

Cutting the lino

Cut marks are part of the identity of a linocut. These can give a sense of movement and life. They can also give a wide variety of textural contrast. Sometimes a clean area with no cut marks is required.

Cut along the surface of the lino – you don’t need top cut deep. Even pressure can create a smooth line.

Varying the pressure and angle of the tool and/or speed of cutting gives a more varied and expressive line.

If using a large lino block, or cutting away large areas, it is best to mount the lino on a solid surface like hardboard with glue. This will keep the plate rigid through repeated use. This is particularly important in reduction or combination prints.

Tools

Veining tool: to cut an outline around the largest shapes so that they are easier to cut out. And for the finest lines and smallest areas.

Gouge: has a rounded blade that cuts into the lino first and leaves a round end to each cut.  The gouge can be pushed into the lino and make a long smooth stroke. Short stabbed cuts can also be made as textural marks. Rough-edged marks by rocking from side to side. They come in a range of different widths and vary from shallow C-shapes to deep U-shapes.

V-tools: have a triangular blade that will leave a neat v-shaped cut. Longer cuts can be made and then tapered by reducing the pressure on the blade as it reaches the end of the groove. Short stabbed cuts will be triangular in appearance. A square end to the cut can be made by suddenly stopping the movement and levering the lino shard away from the block. They come in a range of different widths.

Blades: Angled and flat-end blades are designed for cutting a line around a shape before using a gouge to make the edge sharp, particularly if you want this to make a corner or a point. They can also be used to remove the top edge of the scoop marks or the ridges of cut marks if a clean area is required.

Scoops: ?? not quite worked out what to do with these.

Safety

  • Use a bench hook and steady the image, cut away from you. Turn the lino if you need to change direction.
  • Warm the lino to make cutting easier and prevent strain. This is easily done with a hairdryer or on a radiator.
  • Keep plasters handy in case of slips.

Proofing

It is useful to check the image as you go along by lying a thin piece of paper over the lino and using pencil or a graphite stick. This helps avoid over-cutting and better judgement of shapes. At a later stage it is useful to do proof prints.

Printing the image

Inking the plate

Use relief inks – water-based or oil-based. Relief inks are stiffer than etching inks.

Mix the ink into the colour you want with a palette knife. Use thinner ink if you have a lot of fine cuts.

Use a hard roller to get sharp outlines. A softer roller will go slightly inside the cuts and give a softer image. Ideally the width of the roller should be bigger than the block. Use a small roller to go over finer areas if necessary – check the corners and edges in particular.

You need an even coating of ink that is not thick or lumpy. The ink on the roller should look like fine suede and make a very gentle swish when rolling out. There should be no spots or marks in the ink because these will be transferred to the block, and probably to the paper. It is much better to apply several layers of thin ink than one thick layer – ink that is too thick may ooze down into the cut marks and loss of detail will occur.

You can re-ink the lino several times for the same colour, or to mix colours.

Papers

Relief prints are usually printed onto smooth dry paper, but can be printed on dampened paper.

Thinner more sensitive papers can be used, particularly if printing by hand.

Registration

Registration enables you to print an edition with every print being positioned in the same place on each sheet of paper. It also enables you to over print a new layer of colour over a previous print.

Registration methods include:

  • drawing frames of two sizes on a large sheet of paper – a smaller one for the block and a larger one to position the paper
  • putting tape supports or marks at one or more corners on the bed of the printing press for the block and paper eg marks for the block and tape supports for the paper (my preferred method)
  • mounting the block on a hard board that is the size of the paper.
  • using a thick cardboard jig the same height as the surface of the lino and the same size as the paper, with a hole for the lino plate cut out in the appropriate position. Or a simple L-shape can be used.

In all these cases the top left hand corner of the back of the paper should be marked to ensure it is placed the right way up.

Printing

The linocut can  be printed in a simple screw or lever press or by hand, by rubbing the paper against the inked block with a spoon, rolling pin or baren (a slightly concave disc sheathed in bamboo), or by laying the inked linoleum on to the paper and hammering the back of the block. These hand-printing methods can also be used to print on to textiles, or the inked block can be turned on to fabric stretched on the floor and trodden on by the printer. Hand printing can give a more sensitive image.

If using a printing press, the paper can be put on top of the block if you want some embossing. Also if you want to selectively dampen the paper to give texture to the inking. If you want easy registration by eye then put the paper down first and place the block on top.

If corners have been cut back, or to avoid ridge marks at the edges of the lino block on the paper, use lino runners along the edge to stop the rollers sinking onto the paper.

Editioning (single colour or multi-block)

Number the prints in the order you take them. Marked Print No/Total prints.

The edition is only true if the block or blocks remain true without any additional cutting during the print run. It is usual to print all pages of the first colour together, then the next etc. (But not if you are changing the colours of ink on the blocks). The first print is labelled the artist’s proof.

Multiblock Linocuts

 

A multi-block linoprint is where each colour is printed from a separate lino block, cut to match the original design.

To begin you need to create a design that can be printed in two or more colours (often 3 colours is good). Again simplicity of shapes is key. In some cases a black registration block is used containing the finished design to help cut the different layers and also unify the image at the end.

When you have drawn your design outlines and solid dark areas you can colour in areas of your design with pens.

Printing is generally done light to dark, using light colours for the largest areas on the least-cut block. This enables layering of colours to produce a range of different tones and hues as the inks mix and overlay each other.

Block 1: lightest with only the areas that will remain white cut out. This image then needs to be transferred from the paper to Block 2 while the ink is still wet.

Block 2: darker colours with colour of block 1 cut out. This image then needs to be transferred from the paper to Block 3 etc if more colour blocks are used while the ink is still wet.

Blocks 3+ and so on.

Registration block goes last.

REGISTRATION IS KEY!!!

Reduction Linocut (alson known as ‘suicide print’)

A technique that creates a multiple colour print from one block.

First prepare a coloured design and transfer it to the block as in other methods. It is useful to have a master tracing to work from as successive layers will disappear. Colouring areas to be retained helps prevent mistakes.

The first cuts are the colour of the paper to be printed on. The surface is then reduced for each successive colour, usually working from the lightest to the darkest. Remember ‘CUT TO SAVE’ previous colour. Some cuts can also be masked if you make a mistake.

As you cannot go back, a batch of prints large enough for the print run should be done at each stage.

Reduction prints are usually printed in opaque inks as you want each successive colour to sit on top of the previous layer (is this true?? Or do you want mixing???)

Collagraph

Collagraphy (sometimes spelled collography) is a printmaking process in which materials are applied to a rigid substrate (such as cardboard, paperboard, wood or metal). The word is derived from the Greek word koll or kolla, meaning glue, and graph, meaning the activity of drawing.

Collagraph prints are beautiful in the amount of fine detail they can communicate. Different tonal effects and vibrant colours can be achieved with the technique due to the depth of relief and differential inking that results from the collagraph plate’s highly textured surface.

The low relied plate can be printed:

  • intaglio: below the surface with the ink in the lower parts of the plate, burnishing the relief
  • relief: the ink sitting on the higher parts of the plate
  • combination: using different tones or colours. This often also takes advantages of differences in viscosity of ink that can be obtained through using different amounts of extender.

Many layers can be superimposed using registration techniques.

For details of different aspects of collagraph printing see Logbook Part 4: Collagraph pp 2-3.

1) Making a plate

The plate can be made from any sturdy material, cut to any size. Or different size plates can be combined as long as allowance is made for some degree of embossing around the plate. Sometimes it may be necessary to seal the plate before gluing on objects.

Any low relief materials can be glued onto the plate. Collagraphs can pick up fine detail so it is not necessary to have high relief. Thin materials print very well – the depth of masking tape will transfer surface texture and shape when printing. Different surfaces absorb in different ways and these differences can be exploited to the full. Smooth surfaces can be burnished to remove ink and give subtle tones.

Shapes and images can be implied through creative use of contrasting textures and surfaces. Simple bold arrangements of shapes and textures work well – abstract qualities creating a surface of graet interest and visual effects.

– plant materials will last longer if the leaves etc are dried out and no longer contain moisture.

– carborundim grit (see below) mixed with glue can give a dense mark.

– glue, acrylic gesso and tile adhesives and even thick impasto acrylic paint can be used and sculpted or drawn into on the plate in low relief.

– the surface of the plate can be cut or scored into as long as the marks are not too deep from the top parts of the print.

BUT it is important that no one material stands too proud or it will stop the area around it from printing. Try not to use anything thicker than a piece of mountboard to give a good even printing across the plate.

Do not use anything sharp or it can cut the blankets on the press.

When the glue has dried thoroughly, give 2 coats of varnish or shellac to stop paper sticking to the plate and enable it to be cleaned.

2) Inking the plate

Before inking for the first time, to help the plate separate from the paper, rub a small quantity of oil into the surface with cotton wool.

Intaglio: because different materials hold onto ink in different ways, it is useful to mix etching ink with plate oil or extender to loosen the ink, making it easier to wipe and thin the saturated ink colour. 50/50 is good to start with and can then be adjusted after proofing. Different materials will require different proportions and each plate is unique. Different inks and percentages will also give different effects.

Wipe off with tissue/scrim.

Relief: Best done with a roller and stiff relief ink.

Applying the ink can be done with different implements:

– brushes of different types and sizes can paint and texture the plate much as with monoprint.

– toothbrushes

– rollers – soft rollers will push ink further into the plate. If you want to just cover the highest parts use a hard roller. Small rollers can get ink into different areas of colour. Big rollers give a consistent sweep.

– dollies made up of rolled J-cloths bound with masking tape.

– cotton buds, particularly for tight corners

– wipe off/burnish areas with tissue paper, newspaper, scrim or j-cloths give different effects.

3) Printing the plate

Paper can be of varying types depending on the effect required.

– for intaglio use damp paper

– for relief dry or damp.

Types of paper

– 250-300 gms printing or watercolour paper is best used damp.

– thinner paper can be used even tissue paper or newsprint if more vague images are required.

– hosho paper works well but do not dampen it.

Press

Experiment with different amounts and types of packing paper. The thicker and softer the packing eg blotting paper, the more it will push the print into the recesses of the plate. You can also reverse the blankets.

Putting first the paper on top of the plate pushes down for intaglio.

Putting then the plate on top of the paper gives a clear relief.

Clean the plate with cooking oil but this will always leave an (often interesting) shadow. Different effects can be built up in this way.

The plate can be intaglio-inked, inked with a roller or paintbrush, or some combination thereof. Ink or pigment is applied to the resulting collage, and the board is used to print onto paper or another material using either a printing press or various hand tools. The resulting print is termed a collagraph. Substances such as carborundum, acrylic texture mediums, sandpapers, bubble wrap, string, cut card, leaves and grass can all be used in creating the collagraph plate. In some instances, leaves can be used as a source of pigment by rubbing them onto the surface of the plate.

Collagraphy is a very open printmaking method. Ink may be applied to the upper surfaces of the plate with a brayer for a relief print, or ink may be applied to the entire board and then removed from the upper surfaces but remain in the spaces between objects, resulting in an intaglio print. A combination of both intaglio and relief methods may also be employed. A printing press may or may not be used.

Carborundum printmaking

A collagraph printmaking technique in which the image is created by adding light passages to a dark field. It is a relatively new process invented in the US during the 1930s that allows artists to work on a large scale. Normally, cardboard or wood plates are coated in a layer of carborundum or screen, and the lights are created by filling in the texture with screen filler or glue. Carborundum prints may be printed as intaglio plates.

Carborundum was originally used by printmakers to grind down lithography stones and is now used in collagraph prints to create gradients of tone and a sandy texture. It works because when the carborundum adheres to the plate the ink sits around it. It can be applied in a number of different ways:

  • Painting onto the plate with a liquid glue and then sprinkling the carborundum onto it
  • Mixing different amounts of glue with it and then painting them on in sections, the more grit used the darker. Example: one spoon of carborundum to five spoons of glue will be much lighter than five spoons of carborundum to five spoons of glue.
  • Using stencils to apply the glue and sprinkling different amounts of carborundum through the different stencils.

To print a carborundum print, the surface is covered in ink, and then the surface is wiped clean with tarlatan cloth or newspaper, leaving ink only in the texture of the screen or carborundum. A damp piece of paper is placed on top, and the plate and paper are run through a printing press that, through pressure, transfers the ink from the recesses of the plate to the paper. Very large editions are not possible as a small amount of carborundum comes off every time it is wiped down.

Chine colle

Chine-collé roughly translates from French chine = tissue, and collé, meaning glued or pasted. It is a special technique in printmaking, in which the image is transferred to a surface that is bonded to a heavier support in the printing process.

One purpose is to allow the printmaker to print on a much more delicate surface, such as Japanese paper or linen, which pulls finer details off the plate. Another purpose is to provide a background colour behind the image that is different from the surrounding backing sheet.

The final image will depend on the design and ink colour of the printed image, the colour and opacity of the paper to which the image is directly printed (plus any inclusions such as petals or fibres in that paper), and the colour of the backing sheet.

History

The word chine is used because the thin paper traditionally used in the process was unsized and made from bamboo paper imported to Europe from China, India and/or Japan. As these papers were generally slightly different in colour they provided a subtle background to the printed image. This was particularly appreciated in  mid-nineteenth century lithography and intaglio printing. In the twentieth century etchings by Picasso and Matisse used this effect.

Materials

Checklist

  • clean printing, inking and drying areas
  • prepared printing paper ready (soaked if you are using it damp)
  • tissue or other colle papers cut to shape or torn
  • glue or paste and pasting brush
  • paper grips or tweezers
  • scissors/cutting implements and cutting mat

Paper

Traditionally done with fine paper made from eg gampi fibre. Also any acid-free and colour-fast tissue paper or silk fabric or fine handmade papers. Today as the finer bamboo papers are rare, coloured Japanese papers are usually used.

Any material can be used as long as the ink chosen will adhere to it:  newspaper, metal leaf, dried leaves, textured materials, ephemera, dress patterns, and book pages as the sheet to be printed on.

Some artists have moved away from precise trimming of a single sheet of paper to the size of the printing plate when using this method. For example, some experiment with pre-cut shapes for a collage effect, or simultaneously adhere multiple overlapping pieces of paper under the printed image.

Ink

Use oil-based printing ink to reduce effects of colours running and it will not interfere with the glue so much. With water-based ink use rubber solution glue.

Glue

Only a thin layer is needed but this needs to be evenly spread all over with a pasting brush to prevent it lifting off.

– PVA diluted with a little water is an option for metal leaf and some thin papers or gel medium. But these are too strong for very delicate papers.

– rubber-solution glue with water-based inks

– spray glue and photomount glues can be used for test prints but can discolour with age

– cornflower and water glue can be used for very delicate pieces (put 1 tsp cornflower and a little warm water and stir to paste without lumps, then add water to make 50ml and gently heat for 2 minutes. Need to use it warm)

– some artists are reported to use a dusting of flour right before pressing rather than paste. Some have tried using no adhesive at all, simply relying on the high pressure of the printing press and properties of the paper (fibers, sizing) to fuse the papers together similar to paper-making; however, this method may be variable and unreliable.

– DON’T USE: contact adhesives or epoxy resins

In traditional paste-making for Chine-collé, wheat or rice starch is separated from gluten and other things in wheat or rice flour. Pure starch is then cooked with distilled water to form a congealed gel. Finally the gel is passed through a fine sieve such as a piece of silk to form the paste. Starch-based pastes are considered archival and are sometimes used in other paper-based applications, such as book binding, book repair and collage.

Methods

There is no single recommended procedure – it depends on the materials to be used. But you need to work fairly quickly before the glue or paste dries so you need to have all the necessary materials ready before you start.

Generic Process

1) Make the background print

2) Prepare the printing block and put it face up

3) If precise printing is required, prepare a proof through printing onto the chine colle to be cut and cut it

4) Apply the glue to the chine colle material. In order to avoid tearing, creases or bubbles, use minimal adhesive and consider the dampness and temperature of the surrounding environment.

5) Put the chine colle between the paper and the block, glue side to the paper

6) Register and put the paper on top and print

a) direct print placing chine colle on plate then pasting – particularly useful when the whole plate or a large portion of it is to be covered.  The plate is inked, the thin paper (dampened) is placed on the inked plate and trimmed to size, paste is applied to the thin paper, and the ensemble (plate plus thin paper with paste) is placed on a dampened backing sheet. This is then run through a printing press. In the pressure of the press, the ink is transferred to the thin paper, and the thinner paper is simultaneously adhered to the backing paper.

  • advantage: the thin paper will be exactly the desired size, since it is trimmed to size and then quickly affixed in place.

b)  direct print pasting the chine colle then putting on plate: particularly useful if many small pieces of chine colle are to be used. The rice paper is already cut to size before preparing the plate to print. The heavier print paper has been put in the bath and dampened according to the printmaker’s preference, then set aside. If the rice paper was painted on, it has been dried and is also set aside, ready. The plate is inked and wiped then placed on the press face up. Thin paste is brushed on the back of the rice paper and it is placed face down on the plate and registered. The paste is put on just enough to coat but not saturate, which dampens the rice paper appropriately. If one tries to brush paste on a damp piece of rice paper, it will rip. The print paper is then placed on top of the pasted side of the rice paper, a sheet of newsprint added on top of the stack and the felts then covering the stack. It is then run through the press.

  • advantage:this process is less tricky to manoeuvre than the first method, is cleaner, and more accurate in registration.

c) pre-pasted: the thin paper (dry) is trimmed to the size of the plate, then paste is applied and allowed to dry. When the printmaker is ready to print, the paper is dampened to activate the paste and placed, paste-side up, on an inked plate. Then the ensemble (plate plus thin paper with paste) is placed on a dampened backing sheet and run through a press as described above.

  • advantage once dried, the paste-applied papers can be stored indefinitely, just like a lick-and-stick postage stamp.
  • disadvantage because the paper is trimmed dry, the artist must take into account how much in each direction the paper will expand when it is dampened prior to printing.

Abstraction

What is Abstraction?

(from the Latin abs, meaning away from and trahere, meaning to draw)
is the process of taking away or removing characteristics from something in order to reduce it to a set of essential characteristics. (http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/abstraction)

Abstract Art

wikipedia

Abstract art uses a visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.

Abstraction exists along a continuum.

  • All art is in some degree abstraction in the sense that even figurative art  is selective in what it represents.
  • Partial abstraction through obvious alterations of eg colour or form.
  • Total abstraction bears no trace of any reference to anything recognizable.

History

Much of the art of earlier cultures – signs and marks on pottery, textiles, and inscriptions and paintings on rock – were simple, geometric and linear forms which might have had a symbolic or decorative purpose.

In Western Art abstraction started to develop in 19th Century. Three art movements which contributed to the development of abstract art were Romanticism, Impressionism and Expressionism.

Romanticism

James McNeill Whistler  in his painting Nocturne in Black and Gold: The falling Rocket, (1872), placed greater emphasis on visual sensation than the depiction of objects.

John Constable, J M W Turner, Camille Corot and from them to the

Impressionists

Paul Cézanne had begun as an Impressionist but his aim – to make a logical construction of reality based on a view from a single point, with modulated colour in flat areas – became the basis of a new visual art, later to be developed into Cubism by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso.

Expressionist painters

Expressionists explored the bold use of paint surface, drawing distortions and exaggerations, and intense color and produced emotionally charged paintings that were reactions to and perceptions of contemporary experience; and reactions to Impressionism and other more conservative directions of late 19th-century painting. The Expressionists drastically changed the emphasis on subject matter in favor of the portrayal of psychological states of being.

Edvard Munch

James Ensor

Additionally in the late 19th century in Eastern Europe mysticism and early modernist religious philosophy as expressed by theosophist Mme. Blavatsky had a profound impact on pioneer geometric artists like Wassily Kandinsky, and Hilma af Klint. The mystical teaching of Georges Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky also had an important influence on the early formations of the geometric abstract styles of Piet Mondrian and his colleagues in the early 20th century.

20th century

Post Impressionism as practiced by Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cézanne had an enormous impact on 20th-century art and led to the advent of 20th-century abstraction. The heritage of painters like Van Gogh, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Seurat was essential for the development of modern art.

Fauvism: At the beginning of the 20th century Henri Matisse and several other young artists including the pre-cubist Georges Braque, André Derain, Raoul Dufy and Maurice de Vlaminck revolutionized the Paris art world with “wild”, multi-colored, expressive, landscapes and figure paintings that the critics called Fauvism. With his expressive use of color and his free and imaginative drawing Henri Matisse comes very close to pure abstraction in French Window at Collioure, (1914), View of Notre-Dame, (1914), and The Yellow Curtain from 1915. The raw language of color as developed by the Fauves directly influenced another pioneer of abstraction Wassily Kandinsky (see illustration).

Cubism ultimately depends upon subject matter, it became, along with Fauvism, the art movement that directly opened the door to abstraction in the 20th century. Pablo Picasso made his first cubist paintings based on Cézanne’s idea that all depiction of nature can be reduced to three solids: cube, sphere and cone. With the painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon 1907, Picasso dramatically created a new and radical picture depicting a raw and primitive brothel scene with five prostitutes, violently painted women, reminiscent of African tribal masks and his own new Cubist inventions. Analytic cubism was jointly developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, from about 1908 through 1912. Analytic cubism, the first clear manifestation of cubism, was followed by Synthetic cubism, practised by Braque, Picasso, Fernand Léger, Juan Gris, Albert Gleizes, Marcel Duchamp and countless other artists into the 1920s. Synthetic cubism is characterized by the introduction of different textures, surfaces, collage elements, papier collé and a large variety of merged subject matter. The collage artists like Kurt Schwitters and Man Ray and others taking the clue from Cubism were instrumental to the development of the movement called Dada.

The Italian poet Marinetti published ‘The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism’ in 1909, which inspired artists such as Carlo Carra in, Painting of Sounds, Noises and Smells and Umberto Boccioni Train in Motion, 1911, to a further stage of abstraction and profoundly influenced art movements throughout Europe.[10]

Orphism During the 1912 Salon de la Section d’Or the poet Guillaume Apollinaire named the work of several artists including Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Orphism.[11] He defined it as, the art of painting new structures out of elements that have not been borrowed from the visual sphere, but had been created entirely by the artist…it is a pure art.[12]

Since the turn of the century cultural connections between artists of the major European and American cities had become extremely active as they strove to create an art form equal to the high aspirations of modernism. Ideas were able to cross-fertilize by means of artists books, exhibitions and manifestos so that many sources were open to experimentation and discussion, and formed a basis for a diversity of modes of abstraction. The following extract from,’The World Backwards’, gives some impression of the inter-connectedness of culture at the time: ‘David Burliuk’s knowledge of modern art movements must have been extremely up-to-date, for the second Knave of Diamonds exhibition, held in January 1912 (in Moscow) included not only paintings sent from Munich, but some members of the German Die Brücke group, while from Paris came work by Robert Delaunay, Henri Matisse and Fernand Léger, as well as Picasso. During the Spring David Burliuk gave two lectures on cubism and planned a polemical publication, which the Knave of Diamonds was to finance. He went abroad in May and came back determined to rival the almanac Der Blaue Reiter which had emerged from the printers while he was in Germany’.

From 1909 to 1913 many experimental works in the search for this ‘pure art’ had been created: Francis Picabia painted Caoutchouc, 1909,[13] The Spring, 1912,[14] Dances at the Spring[15] and The Procession, Seville, 1912;[16] Wassily Kandinsky painted Untitled (First Abstract Watercolor), 1910,[17] Improvisation 21A, the Impression series, and Picture with a Circle (1911);[18] František Kupka had painted the Orphist works, Discs of Newton (Study for Fugue in Two Colors), 1912[19] and Amorpha, Fugue en deux couleurs (Fugue in Two Colors), 1912; Robert Delaunay painted a series entitled Simultaneous Windows and Formes Circulaires, Soleil n°2 (1912–13);[20] Léopold Survage created Colored Rhythm (Study for the film), 1913;[21] Piet Mondrian, painted Tableau No. 1 and Composition No. 11, 1913.[22]
Wassily Kandinsky, On White 2, 1923
And the search continued: The Rayist (Luchizm) drawings of Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov, used lines like rays of light to make a construction. Kasimir Malevich completed his first entirely abstract work, the Suprematist, ‘Black Square’, in 1915. Another of the Suprematist group’ Liubov Popova, created the Architectonic Constructions and Spatial Force Constructions between 1916 and 1921. Piet Mondrian was evolving his abstract language, of horizontal and vertical lines with rectangles of colour, between 1915 and 1919, Neo-Plasticism was the aesthetic which Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg and other in the group De Stijl intended to reshape the environment of the future.

Music
As visual art becomes more abstract, it develops some characteristics of music: an art form which uses the abstract elements of sound and divisions of time. Wassily Kandinsky, himself a musician, was inspired by the possibility of marks and associative color resounding in the soul. The idea had been put forward by Charles Baudelaire, that all our senses respond to various stimuli but the senses are connected at a deeper aesthetic level.

Closely related to this, is the idea that art has The spiritual dimension and can transcend ‘every-day’ experience, reaching a spiritual plane. The Theosophical Society popularised the ancient wisdom of the sacred books of India and China in the early years of the century. It was in this context that Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky, Hilma af Klint and other artists working towards an ‘objectless state’ became interested in the occult as a way of creating an ‘inner’ object. The universal and timeless shapes found in geometry: the circle, square and triangle become the spatial elements in abstract art; they are, like color, fundamental systems underlying visible reality.

Russian avant-garde

Many of the abstract artists in Russia became Constructivists believing that art was no longer something remote, but life itself. The artist must become a technician, learning to use the tools and materials of modern production. Art into life! was Vladimir Tatlin’s slogan, and that of all the future Constructivists. Varvara Stepanova and Alexandre Exter and others abandoned easel painting and diverted their energies to theatre design and graphic works. On the other side stood Kazimir Malevich, Anton Pevsner and Naum Gabo. They argued that art was essentially a spiritual activity; to create the individual’s place in the world, not to organise life in a practical, materialistic sense. Many of those who were hostile to the materialist production idea of art left Russia. Anton Pevsner went to France, Gabo went first to Berlin, then to England and finally to America. Kandinsky studied in Moscow then left for the Bauhaus. By the mid-1920s the revolutionary period (1917 to 1921) when artists had been free to experiment was over; and by the 1930s only socialist realism was allowed.[23]

The Bauhaus
The Bauhaus at Weimar, Germany was founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius. The philosophy underlying the teaching program was unity of all the visual and plastic arts from architecture and painting to weaving and stained glass. This philosophy had grown from the ideas of the Arts and Crafts movement in England and the Deutscher Werkbund. Among the teachers were Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Johannes Itten, Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Theo van Doesburg and László Moholy-Nagy.

In 1925 the school was moved to Dessau and, as the Nazi party gained control in 1932, The Bauhaus was closed. In 1937 an exhibition of degenerate art, ‘Entartete Kunst’ contained all types of avant-garde art disapproved of by the Nazi party. Then the exodus began: not just from the Bauhaus but from Europe in general; to Paris, London and America. Paul Klee went to Switzerland but many of the artists at the Bauhaus went to America.

Abstraction in Paris and London

During the 1930s Paris became the host to artists from Russia, Germany, Holland and other European countries affected by the rise of totalitarianism.

Sophie Tauber and Jean Arp collaborated on paintings and sculpture using organic/geometric forms.

The Polish Katarzyna Kobro applied mathematically based ideas to sculpture. The many types of abstraction now in close proximity led to attempts by artists to analyse the various conceptual and aesthetic groupings.

An exhibition by forty-six members of the Cercle et Carré group organised by Michel Seuphor contained work by the Neo-Plasticists as well as abstractionists as varied as Kandinsky, Anton Pevsner and Kurt Schwitters. Criticised by Theo van Doesburg to be too indefinite a collection he published the journal Art Concret setting out a manifesto defining an abstract art in which the line, color and surface only, are the concrete reality.

Abstraction-Création founded in 1931 as a more open group, provided a point of reference for abstract artists, as the political situation worsened in 1935, and artists again regrouped, many in London.

1935 The first exhibition of British abstract art was held in England in 1935. The following year the more international Abstract and Concrete exhibition was organised by Nicolete Gray including work by Piet Mondrian, Joan Miró, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. Hepworth, Nicholson and Gabo moved to the St. Ives group in Cornwall to continue their ‘constructivist’ work.

America: mid-century
Main articles: Modernism, Late modernism, American Modernism and Surrealism

During the Nazi rise to power in the 1930s many artists fled Europe to the United States. By the early 1940s the main movements in modern art, expressionism, cubism, abstraction, surrealism, and dada were represented in New York: Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian, Jacques Lipchitz, André Masson, Max Ernst, André Breton, were just a few of the exiled Europeans who arrived in New York.

 

The rich cultural influences brought by the European artists were distilled and built upon by local New York painters. The climate of freedom in New York allowed all of these influences to flourish. The art galleries that primarily had focused on European art began to notice the local art community and the work of younger American artists who had begun to mature. Certain of these artists became distinctly abstract in their mature work.

During this period Piet Mondrian’s painting Composition No. 10, 1939-1942, characterized by primary colors, white ground and black grid lines clearly defined his radical but classical approach to the rectangle and abstract art in general.

Some artists of the period defied categorization, such as Georgia O’Keeffe who, while a modernist abstractionist, was a pure maverick in that she painted highly abstract forms while not joining any specific group of the period.

Eventually American artists who were working in a great diversity of styles began to coalesce into cohesive stylistic groups. The best known group of American artists became known as the Abstract expressionists and the New York School.

Mark Rothko, born in Russia, began with strongly surrealist imagery which later dissolved into his powerful color compositions of the early 1950s. The expressionistic gesture and the act of painting itself, became of primary importance to Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline. While during the 1940s Arshile Gorky’s and Willem de Kooning’s figurative work evolved into abstraction by the end of the decade.

 

Both geometric abstraction and lyrical abstraction are often totally abstract. Among the very numerous art movements that embody partial abstraction would be for instance fauvism in which color is conspicuously and deliberately altered vis-a-vis reality, and cubism, which blatantly alters the forms of the real life entities depicted.[3][4]

st-Impressionists they were instrumental to the advent of abstraction in the 20th century.

Abstraction in the 21st century

Main articles: Abstract expressionism, Color field, Lyrical abstraction, Post-painterly abstraction, Sculpture and Minimal art

A commonly held idea is that pluralism characterizes art at the beginning of the 21st century. There is no consensus, nor need there be, as to a representative style of the age. There is an anything goes attitude that prevails; an “everything going on”, and consequently “nothing going on” syndrome; this creates an aesthetic traffic jam with no firm and clear direction and with every lane on the artistic superhighway filled to capacity. Consequently magnificent and important works of art continue to be made albeit in a wide variety of styles and aesthetic temperaments, the marketplace being left to judge merit.

Digital art, computer art, internet art, hard-edge painting, geometric abstraction, appropriation, hyperrealism, photorealism, expressionism, minimalism, lyrical abstraction, pop art, op art, abstract expressionism, color field painting, monochrome painting, neo-expressionism, collage, decollage, intermedia, assemblage, digital painting, postmodern art, neo-Dada painting, shaped canvas painting, environmental mural painting, graffiti, figure painting, landscape painting, portrait painting, are a few continuing and current directions at the beginning of the 21st century.

Into the 21st century abstraction remains very much in view, its main themes: the transcendental, the contemplative and the timeless are exempified by Barnett Newman, John McLaughlin, and Agnes Martin as well as younger living artists. Art as Object as seen in the Minimalist sculpture of Donald Judd and the paintings of Frank Stella are still seen today in newer permutations. The poetic, Lyrical Abstraction and the sensuous use of color seen in the work of painters as diverse as Robert Motherwell, Patrick Heron, Kenneth Noland, Sam Francis, Cy Twombly, Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, among others.

There was a resurgence after the war and into the 1950s of the figurative, as neo-Dada, fluxus, happening, conceptual art, neo-expressionism, installation art, performance art, video art and pop art have come to signify the age of consumerism. The distinction between abstract and figurative art has, over the last twenty years, become less defined leaving a wider range of ideas for all artists.

Causation

One socio-historical explanation that has been offered for the growing prevalence of the abstract in modern art – an explanation linked to the name of Theodor W. Adorno – is that such abstraction is a response to, and a reflection of, the growing abstraction of social relations in industrial society.[31]

Frederic Jameson similarly sees modernist abstraction as a function of the abstract power of money, equating all things equally as exchange-values.[32] The social content of abstract art is then precisely the abstract nature of social existence – legal formalities, bureaucratic impersonalisation, information/power – in the world of late modernity.[33]

Post-Jungians by contrast would see the quantum theories with their disintegration of conventional ideas of form and matter as underlying the divorce of the concrete and the abstract in modern art.[34]

 

 

Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly website

The following is edited from article by on Tate website

Life

Born and bred in Lexington, Virginia, Twombly was deeply influenced by Modern European art, particularly twentieth century European painting, and moved to Italy in 1957. Since that date he has worked in Rome and various locations in Italy and the United States as well as travelling widely around the Mediterranean.

Approach

Throughout his career, Twombly’s paintings have been based on two components – line and paint.

In such early works as Panorama 1955 (Daros Collection, Switzerland), a monotone grey canvas is covered in irregular chalk scribbles which hover on the verge of becoming recognisable as letters or ciphers.

In the 1960s, daubs, smears and drips of colourful paint applied with a brush, the brush handle and the tips of the artist’s fingers begin to supersede the crayon and graphite marks of his earlier paintings. In some paintings, such as August Notes from Rome 1961 (Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC), line is almost completely replaced by colourful patches of paint; in others, such as Leda and the Swan 1961 (collection the artist), it is a source of violent energy.

Since the mid 1970s, the linear marks frequently take the form of text, introducing a third component: written language. Clumsy capitals or scrawled cursive letters are mixed with doodled shapes and indecipherable scribbles usually in compositional balance with painted elements. The tension between the graphic qualities of linear inscription and the sensual materiality of paint is central to the impact of the work. This runs parallel to a tension between intellectual cultural history and intuitive emotional expression enacted in Twombly’s paintings. Classical mythology, literature and historical works of art are appropriated and translated into a visual response which is tactile, visceral and aesthetic. His particular reference to Greek and Roman myths evokes an archaic symbolism, a subject he shares with the American Abstract Expressionists. A generation younger, he is further connected to this movement by his expressive, ‘gestural’ use of paint.

Four Seasons

spring

Primavera, or spring, represents the first season of the year. A column of red curved and slashed forms dominates the image. These relate to traditional Egyptian rowing boats which, it has been suggested, symbolise the journey through the underworld in the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ (Bastian, p.37, note 15). Twombly lived for several months in Egypt in the mid 1980s and began to use the symbol of the boat in 1992. In Primavera, the red boat forms are smeared with patches of yellow, as though touched by the sun. In part II, Estate (Tate T07888), echoes of the boat forms in black, over-painted with white, are entirely covered with yellow, perhaps concealed by the blinding summer sun. The yellow patches in Primavera are applied in a central row, drawing the eye upwards to the top of the painting, where they culminate in a bouquet-like form containing touches of purple and pink. Strokes of white paint cover parts of the bouquet and the red boats, obliterate long dribbles of red paint and other smears and form a background for areas of text. The title Primavera, with the artist’s initials and the date ‘June 94’ written in red crayon, is followed by a fragment of poetic text in pencil referring to happiness and emotion ‘that almost overwhelms’. Twombly’s impression of spring is vibrant and celebratory.

summer

autumn

Autunno, or autumn, represents the third season of the year. The idea for the cycle began with this season, inspired by the wine harvest in Bassano in Teverina. Appropriately for the season, the colours in this painting are the richest in the group. The title is painted in irregular, dripping brown capitals near the top of the painting. Patches of deep greens, reds and browns blend with smears of dark blue, violet and yellow. On the left, stalks tipped with berries drawn with dark crayon emerge from clusters of muddy brown paint smeared with the artist’s finger tips. Placed in a vertical line above a thickly painted green area, the clusters of brown paint and their long drips form a dark margin on the side of the painting. Other finger smears and prints in red and green appear near a central formation of mixed, smeared colours. Near this, round patches of red extend towards the right with long, horizontal projections, echoing the direction of the stalks and suggesting movement. This appearance of sideways movement across the canvas dramatically counterbalances the sense of verticality created by the long drips. White paint, used to cover marks and text, has been applied more sparingly than in other paintings in the cycle. The words ‘your blood’ may be distinguished, half concealed by streaks and dribbles. Other text is too fragmented to be legible.

winter

Inverno, or winter, represents the fourth season of the year. In this painting, the jagged forms made up of horizontal and vertical strokes which produced curved ‘boats’ in parts I and II of the cycle, Primavera (Tate T07887) and Estate (Tate T07888), are depicted in an altered state in black. Heavily painted over and blended with one another, they are virtually indistinguishable as discrete forms. On the right side of the painting, black boat shapes beginning at the centre expand upwards into a large black patch. This is balanced by a smaller black patch at the bottom left of the painting. Swathes of white and daubs of yellow have been mixed over the areas of black, breaking it up so that it evokes pine branches buffeted by rain. Marks made by the movement of the artist’s fingers and brush across the canvas in horizontal streaks has created a sense of sideways motion, echoing that made by horizontal strokes of red in Autunno (Tate T07889). Fragments of text and other marks on the cream canvas are covered by white paint. Several layers of this have been smeared over a large proportion of the canvas in a thin wash resulting in dribbles over much of the central area. Minimal blobs of light green in the centre and a patch of pale yellow on the right soften the harsh atmosphere of the image, which conveys a strong sense of winter’s harsh winds and bleak cold

Quattro Stagioni is a cycle of four paintings representing the four seasons. Tate’s version is the second of two cycles; the first is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Both cycles were begun in 1993 at Twombly’s studio in Bassano in Teverina (north of Rome) and completed in 1994 at another house owned by the artist in Gaeta on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Twombly’s representations of the four seasons are typical to his production of the late 1980s and 1990s in which light has become a principal theme. His prominent use of white echoes that of French Impressionists such as Claude Monet (1840-1926) for whom it was an important ingredient in the depiction of light. A series of nine paintings, Untitled 1988 (Cy Twombly Gallery, Houston), portraying the green reflective surfaces of a watery pool, recalls Monet’s celebrated paintings of his water garden at Giverny, France created between 1899 and 1926. Plant life and the sea also recur in Twombly’s imagery of this period. A single work is frequently made up of several parts, as in Quattro Stagioni which is subtitled A Painting in Four Parts.

The four seasons as symbols of the natural cycles of birth and death are a classical theme in poetry, music and painting. In Twombly’s Quattro Stagioni strong colours evoking the brilliance of the Mediterranean light are combined with scrawled poetic fragments from several sources. After pre-priming the canvases with cream-coloured gesso, the artist pinned them to the wall and applied individual colours, allowing the paint to dribble down in long, vertical lines.

Estate, or summer, represents the second season of the year. Predominantly white and yellow, the painting is dominated by the blinding light of mid-summer in a hot country. The canvas is covered with many layers of paint and text in pencil and red crayon. Echoes of the red boat-shapes, which form a central column in part I, Primavera (Tate T07887), cross the centre of this painting in a diagonal line. Originally painted in black, they have been covered by patches of bright yellow, onto which the artist has made vertical and horizontal pencil lines repeating the basic form of the boat. This relates to traditional Egyptian rowing boats which, it has been suggested, symbolise the journey through the underworld in the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ (Bastian, p.37, note 15). Twombly lived for several months in Egypt in the mid 1980s and began to use the symbol of the boat in 1992. On the right side of Estate, passages of a poem by the Greek poet George Seferis (1900-71) are partially legible. Referring to the transience of youth and the passage of time, it evokes the vanitas tradition, in which symbols of mutability and mortality undercut symbols of beauty and fertility. At the top of the painting, the name Baia de Gaeta is superimposed over the words ‘Say goodbye Catullus to the shores of Asia Minor’. Twombly subsequently used these words as the subtitle for a painting in three parts begun in 1972 and finally completed in 1994. This work, Untitled Painting 1994 (Cy Twombly Gallery, Houston) shares much of the imagery of Quattro Stagioni, including the journeying boats and the focus on white light. The Roman lyric poet Catullus (84-54 BC) died soon after returning to Rome from the neighbouring province of Bithynia, Asia Minor, reputedly of a broken heart.
Further reading:
Heiner Bastian: Cy Twombly: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, volume IV 1972-1995, Munich 1995, pp.34-5 and 178, reproduced p.180 in colour
Demosthenes Davvetas, Roberta Smith and Harald Szeemann, Cy Twombly: Paintings, Works on Paper, Sculpture, exhibition catalogue, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London and Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf 1987
Kirk Varnedoe, Cy Twombly: A Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Modern Art, New York 1994, pp.162-5
Elizabeth Manchester
May 2003
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Claude Monet

Monet Creative Commons website

Claude Monet also known as Oscar-Claude Monet or Claude Oscar Monet (November 14, 1840 – December 5, 1926) was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement’s philosophy of expressing one’s perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise.

Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840 on the fifth floor of 45 rue Laffitte, in the ninth arrondissement of Paris. He was the second son of Claude-Adolphe and Louise-Justine Aubrée Monet, both of them second-generation Parisians. On May 20, 1841, he was baptized into the local church parish, Notre-Dame-de-Lorette as Oscar-Claude. In 1845, his family moved to Le Havre in Normandy. His father wanted him to go into the family grocery store business, but Claude Monet wanted to become an artist. His mother was a singer.

On the first of April 1851, Monet entered the Le Havre secondary school of the arts. He first became known locally for his charcoal caricatures, which he would sell for ten to twenty francs. Monet also undertook his first drawing lessons from Jacques-François Ochard, a former student of Jacques-Louis David. On the beaches of Normandy in about 1856/1857 he met fellow artist Eugène Boudin who became his mentor and taught him to use oil paints. Boudin taught Monet “en plein air” (outdoor) techniques for painting.

On 28 January 1857 his mother died. He was 16 years old when he left school, and went to live with his widowed childless aunt, Marie-Jeanne Lecadre.

Paris

When Monet traveled to Paris to visit The Louvre, he witnessed painters copying from the old masters. Monet, having brought his paints and other tools with him, would instead go and sit by a window and paint what he saw. Monet was in Paris for several years and met several painters who would become friends and fellow impressionists. One of those friends was Édouard Manet.

In June 1861 Monet joined the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry in Algeria for two years of a seven-year commitment, but upon his contracting typhoid his aunt Marie-Jeanne Lecadre intervened to get him out of the army if he agreed to complete an art course at a university. It is possible that the Dutch painter Johan Barthold Jongkind, whom Monet knew, may have prompted his aunt on this matter. Disillusioned with the traditional art taught at universities, in 1862 Monet became a student of Charles Gleyre in Paris, where he met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley. Together they shared new approaches to art, painting the effects of light en plein air with broken color and rapid brushstrokes, in what later came to be known as Impressionism.

Monet’s Camille or The Woman in the Green Dress (La Femme à la Robe Verte), painted in 1866, brought him recognition, and was one of many works featuring his future wife, Camille Doncieux; she was the model for the figures in The Woman in the Garden of the following year, as well as for On the Bank of the Seine, Bennecourt, 1868, pictured here. Shortly thereafter Doncieux became pregnant and gave birth to their first child, Jean. In 1868, due to financial reasons, Monet attempted suicide by throwing himself into the Seine.

Franco-Prussian War, Impressionism, and Argenteuil

After the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (July 19, 1870), Monet took refuge in England in September 1870. While there, he studied the works of John Constable and Joseph Mallord William Turner, both of whose landscapes would serve to inspire Monet’s innovations in the study of color. In the Spring of 1871, Monet’s works were refused authorisation to be included in the Royal Academy exhibition.

In May 1871 he left London to live in Zaandam, where he made 25 paintings (and the police suspected him of revolutionary activities). He also paid a first visit to nearby Amsterdam. In October or November 1871 he returned to France. Monet lived from December 1871 to 1878 at Argenteuil, a village on the Seine near Paris, and here he painted some of his best known works. In 1874, he briefly returned to Holland.

In 1872 (or 1873), he painted Impression, Sunrise (Impression: soleil levant) depicting a Le Havre landscape. It hung in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 and is now displayed in the Musée Marmottan-Monet, Paris. From the painting’s title, art critic Louis Leroy coined the term “Impressionism”, which he intended as disparagement but which the Impressionists appropriated for themselves.

Monet and Camille Doncieux had married just before the war (June 28, 1870) and, after their excursion to London and Zaandam, they had moved into a house in Argenteuil near the Seine River in December 1871. She became ill in 1876. They had a second son, Michel, on March 17, 1878, (Jean was born in 1867). This second child weakened her already fading health. In that same year, he moved to the village of Vétheuil. At the age of thirty-two, Madame Monet died on 5 September 1879 of tuberculosis; Monet painted her on her death bed.

Later life

After several difficult months following the death of Camille on 5 September 1879, a grief-stricken Monet (resolving never to be mired in poverty again) began in earnest to create some of his best paintings of the 19th century. During the early 1880s Monet painted several groups of landscapes and seascapes in what he considered to be campaigns to document the French countryside. His extensive campaigns evolved into his series’ paintings.

In 1878 the Monets temporarily moved into the home of Ernest Hoschedé, (1837-1891), a wealthy department store owner and patron of the arts. Both families then shared a house in Vétheuil during the summer. After her husband (Ernest Hoschedé) became bankrupt, and left in 1878 for Belgium, in September 1879, and while Monet continued to live in the house in Vétheuil; Alice Hoschedé helped Monet to raise his two sons, Jean and Michel, by taking them to Paris to live alongside her own six children. They were Blanche, Germaine, Suzanne, Marthe, Jean-Pierre, and Jacques. In the spring of 1880 Alice Hoschedé and all the children left Paris and rejoined Monet still living in the house in Vétheuil. In 1881 all of them moved to Poissy which Monet hated. From the doorway of the little train between Vernon and Gasny he discovered Giverny. In April 1883 they moved to Vernon, then to a house in Giverny, Eure, in Upper Normandy, where he planted a large garden where he painted for much of the rest of his life. Following the death of her estranged husband, Alice Hoschedé married Claude Monet in 1892.

Giverny

At the beginning of May 1883, Monet and his large family rented a house and two acres from a local landowner. The house was situated near the main road between the towns of Vernon and Gasny at Giverny. There was a barn that doubled as a painting studio, orchards and a small garden. The house was close enough to the local schools for the children to attend and the surrounding landscape offered an endless array of suitable motifs for Monet’s work. The family worked and built up the gardens and Monet’s fortunes began to change for the better as his dealer Paul Durand-Ruel had increasing success in selling his paintings. By November 1890 Monet was prosperous enough to buy the house, the surrounding buildings and the land for his gardens. Within a few years by 1899 Monet built a greenhouse and a second studio, a spacious building, well lit with skylights. Beginning in the 1880s and 1890s, through the end of his life in 1926, Monet worked on “series” paintings, in which a subject was depicted in varying light and weather conditions. His first series exhibited as such was of Haystacks, painted from different points of view and at different times of the day. Fifteen of the paintings were exhibited at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in 1891. He later produced several series of paintings including: Rouen Cathedral, Poplars, the Houses of Parliament, Mornings on the Seine, and the Water Lilies that were painted on his property at Giverny.

Monet was exceptionally fond of painting controlled nature: his own gardens in Giverny, with its water lilies, pond, and bridge. He also painted up and down the banks of the Seine.

Between 1883 and 1908, Monet traveled to the Mediterranean, where he painted landmarks, landscapes, and seascapes, such as Bordighera. He painted an important series of paintings in Venice, Italy, and in London he painted two important series — views of Parliament and views of Charing Cross Bridge. His second wife Alice died in 1911 and his oldest son Jean, who had married Alice’s daughter Blanche, Monet’s particular favourite, died in 1914. After his wife died, Blanche looked after and cared for him. It was during this time that Monet began to develop the first signs of cataracts.

During World War I, in which his younger son Michel served and his friend and admirer Clemenceau led the French nation, Monet painted a series of Weeping Willow trees as homage to the French fallen soldiers. Cataracts formed on Monet’s eyes, for which he underwent two operations in 1923. The paintings done while the cataracts affected his vision have a general reddish tone, which is characteristic of the vision of cataract victims. It may also be that after surgery he was able to see certain ultraviolet wavelengths of light that are normally excluded by the lens of the eye, this may have had an effect on the colors he perceived. After his operations he even repainted some of these paintings, with bluer water lilies than before the operation.

Death

Monet died of lung cancer on December 5, 1926 at the age of 86 and is buried in the Giverny church cemetery. Monet had insisted that the occasion be simple; thus about fifty people attended the ceremony.