Friday, September 17, 2010

Picasso's Baby

One of the most satisfying jobs we do in the studio is work with artists who have made plates or blocks to print but have never had either the time or equipment to create an edition from those matrices.  They will find an old lino-cut block or etched plate and bring this in with some first proofs to see if we can make small editions from them.

Recently an artist came to us with some exquisite, small lino blocks and a fine dry-point engraving.  Like many, he had created these a few years ago and had only printed a few proofs.  He had never been able to print an edition, which is a group of prints made from the same block or plate on the same paper, with the same ink and looking so much alike that they are numbered.  This group of impressions is known as the "edition."  I like to tell artists that etching the plates or cutting the blocks is only half the creation of a fine art print.  The way it is printed, the artisan's touch, the choices in ink, the choices of how to print can make the image sing.  So, the printing collaboration becomes an important link to the fine art prints creation.  For this project, Flatbed's master printer, Tracy Mayrello, was put in charge of these matrices.  Her expertise and fine craftsmanship kicked in and the impressions she pulled brought the prints to an amazing level of beauty.  Small editions were created from each matrix and the artist came to inspect, sign and number each impression.  We talked about how his images had been elevated by the printing process; they had become the best of what they could be: simple, elegant, but fluent statements.

"Picasso's Baby" is the title of one of his lino-cuts.  Each line was hand cut with a special gouge into mounted linoleum.  The cut lines swell and diminish, and the printed image appears as white line against black. The block was inked with black and the cut lines show and slightly emboss the white paper below.  The cubist form stands balanced between nothingness and variegated edge.  The playful construction begs your eye to investigate its space.  "Picasso's Baby" is born. 

Katherine Brimberry

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