From acid baths to robots

From acid baths to robots

Discover the artistic processes behind the many forms of printmaking

Printmakers are forever developing new techniques, and using existing processes in innovative ways. This energy and diversity is one of the hallmarks of an art form that has its roots in the 15th century, yet continues to grow and re-invent itself today. In October 2015 at Multiplied, 40 exhibitors showcased works that reflect the whole spectrum of contemporary printmaking. Here, we offer an insight into the artistic processes involved in their creation, illustrated with works from Multiplied Selects and the 2015 fair.

 

Aquatint

Alison Wilding, Out there (Spin), 2010. Direct bite and aquatint, edition of 24, 820 x 770 mm. Courtesy of Benveniste Contemporary & Tamsin Wilkinson Editions, Madrid. This work featured at Multiplied.

An intaglio process (see also etching) in which tone is created by treating a metal plate, usually zinc or copper, with fine particles of acid-resistant material such as powdered resin. The plate is heated and the particles melt onto the plate. Once placed in an acid bath, the acid bites into the exposed areas of the plate, between the particles. When inked and printed the effect is of a finely grained tone, which can be modulated through the application of a block-out such as wax crayon prior to or during the etching process.

 

Chine Collé

Victoria Arney, Hokusias Dream Red. Etching and chine collé, 400 x 300 mm. Courtesy of BEARSPACE, London. This work featured at Multiplied.

Used in combination with etching, chine collé is a collage printmaking technique in which coloured tissue paper, with glue applied to the reverse, is placed face down on the already inked plate. This is covered by a larger sheet of heavier paper, and run through a press under pressure. The tissue paper is simultaneously attached to the support sheet and overprinted by the etching plate.

 

Collagraph

Joseph Muzondo, The Fifth, 1993. Collagraph, edition of 5, 270 x 250 mm. Courtesy of Kamba Fine Art, London. This work featured at Multiplied.

A collage printmaking technique, where the image is composed from a variety of textured materials glued to a cardboard or metal base. This plate or block is then inked and printed through an etching press using thick dampened paper and a great deal of pressure. Both the ink and texture are embossed onto the sheet.

 

Digital Print

Left: Janie Kidston, Retreating, then advancing repeatedly over the centuries, 2015. Archival inkjet print, from the edition of 8. Image and Sheet: 500 x 700 mm. Courtesy of BEARSPACE, London. Right: John Phillips, Vanitas XVII, 2015. Inkjet print, from the edition of 100. Image and sheet: 600 x 600 mm. Courtesy of londonprintstudio, London. These works were offered in Multiplied Selects, 15-29 October 2015. Main image at top: Julien Colombier, Candy Forest, 2015. Digital print, from the edition of 15. Image and sheet: 800 x 800 mm. Courtesy of LN Edition, Paris. This work was offered in Multiplied Selects, 15-29 October 2015.

The printing of a digital file — usually with a laser or inkjet printer — of an image created or manipulated using computer software (see also 3D Printing).

 

 

Etching

Federica Galli, Il Castagno di Castel Lusenegg, 1996. Etching and aquatint, from the edition of 90. Image: 390 x 395 mm., sheet: 800 x 600 mm. Courtesy of Editalia, Rome. This work was offered in Multiplied Selects, 15-29 October 2015.

An intaglio process (see also aquatint) in which a plate is treated with an acid-resistant ground, traditionally made from beeswax. The artist then draws through the ground with an etching needle or other sharp tool to expose the metal. The plate is then immersed in an acid bath where the acid bites into the lines, chemically dissolving the exposed metal. A thick, viscous etching ink is then applied to the plate. When wiped clean, the ink remains only in the etched grooves. The inked plate is then covered by a sheet of dampened paper and run through a press under pressure, transferring the image to the sheet.

 

 

Linocut

David Shrigley, Untitled, 2014. Linocut, from the edition of 100. Image: 410 x 305 mm., sheet: 450 x 345 mm. Courtesy of the artist and Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee. This work was offered in Multiplied Selects, 15-29 October 2015.

A relief process (see also woodcut) where the artist carves or gouges the design out of a block of linoleum, usually mounted onto wood for support. With relief printing what remains is printed, rather than what is cut away. The uncut areas of block are inked with rollers, covered with a sheet of paper, and run through a press under pressure. As linoleum is a softer material than wood and easier to carve, the lines of a linocut tend to be smoother and not as sharp or jagged as a woodcut. 

 

Lithograph

Left: Alexander Massouras, Every Now and Then, 2015. Lithograph, from the edition of 30. Image and sheet: 561 x 681 mm. Courtesy of Julian Page, London. Right: Victoria Burge, Blue Star, 2015. Lithograph with hand-colouring, from the edition of 30. Image: 560 x 410 mm., sheet: 710 x 560 mm. Courtesy of Julian Page, London. These works were offered in Multiplied Selects, 15-29 October.

A planographic process where a drawing is made directly onto a lithographic stone or aluminium plate with greasy materials such as crayon or a lithographic wash called tusche. The surface is then covered with gum arabic, which acts as an etch, chemically fixing the image to the matrix. The crayon drawing is then removed using turpentine and the now clean surface dampened with water. Areas of the cleaned stone or plate that ‘hold’ the image repel water, while the areas that don’t absorb it. It is then rolled with greasy printing ink, which sticks to the dry areas and is repelled by those that are wet. The inked matrix is then covered with a sheet of paper and run through a press under pressure.

 

Monotype (Monoprint)

Left: Bruce McLean, Blue Grey Blind, 2015. Monoprint, edition of 75, 540 x 545 mm. Courtesy of CCA Galleries and Coriander Studio, Surrey. Right: Carol Robertson, Edzná # 15, 2014. Monoprint, 445 x 435 mm. © Carol Robertson, courtesy of Flowers Gallery, London and New York. This work featured at Multiplied.

A unique image printed from a smooth, unworked metal or glass surface painted in ink by the artist.

 

Screenprint

Left: Mark Titchner, Hand Must Mind Must Work, 2014. Screenprint, from the edition of 30. Image: 600 x 460 mm., sheet: 760 x 555 mm. Courtesy of the Royal College of Art, London. Right: Katie Goodwin, Dawn of the Rainbow (CMY). Screenprint, from the edition of 25. Image: 320 x 420 mm., sheet: 470 x 570 mm. Courtesy of the artist and Grey Area, Paris. These works were offered in Multiplied Selects, 15-29 October 2015.

This method uses a screen of fine mesh stretched across a metal frame. The image is created by blocking out areas of the screen with a stencil, then placing the frame over a sheet of paper and wiping ink across its surface. The ink only passes through the unblocked areas onto the sheet. Stencils were traditionally made from hand-cut paper or adhesive sheets, but since the 1950s light-sensitive emulsions have been widely used, allowing artists to use photographic source material.    

 

Woodcut

Left: James Fisher, Margaret Morse, 2015. Woodcut, from the edition of 10. Image: 400 x 375 mm., sheet: 500 x 470 mm. Courtesy of Eagle Gallery, London. This work was offered in Multiplied Selects, 15-29 October 2015. Right: Katsutoshi Yuasa, Tristes Tropiques #2, 2015. Oil-based woodcut, edition of 10, 800 x 800 mm. Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts, London. This work featured at Multiplied 2015.

A relief process where the artist carves the design out of a block of wood. What is not carved is printed (see also linocut). Artists will often use the natural grain of the material to expressive effect.

 

3D Printing

Peter Walters and Katie Davies, Vela, 2012. Laser sintered 3D print, edition of 10, 220 x 190 x 280 mm. Courtesy of CFPR Editions, Bristol. This work featured at Multiplied 2015.

The creation of a three-dimensional object from a digital file. The object is modelled using computer software, and then ‘printed’ by a 3D printer — a kind of industrial robot — through an additive process. Layer upon layer of the chosen material, in most cases silicon, is applied until the object is completed in the round.     

 


For more features, interviews and videos, visit Christie’s Daily