The Print Project: Hokusai, Monet and Lichtenstein


Roy Lichtenstein. Reverie from 11 Pop Artists, volume II. 1965 (published 1966)

What happens when Roy Lichtenstein translates mass media printing techniques, notably the Benday dot, into paintings and then back into print? What has happened that the final result does not land back into the banal?

Another story of the path from print into painting and back into print might help explain that.

Much of Monet’s work was influenced by Japanese prints.  The prints offer a view of everyday life, emulated by the Impressionists, but they also captured an instant.

Hokusai

Hokusai

 

So, not only would a Hokusai print depict a flower, but a flower in a particular wind and weather.  Note the wings of a  the butterfly.

grainstack_monet_16

Monet, “Grainstack”

When asked about the origin of Monet’s series of paintings “Grainstacks”, he said that he was working in the field and noticed the light changing. He asked his step-daughter, Blanche, who frequently assisted him, to bring him another canvas, and another and another. He changed the canvases  every few minutes to accommodate the changing light.

I think that it is far more likely that Monet’s inspiration for the series came from Hokusai’s “36 Views of Mt. Fuji”.  Monet collected Japanese prints and owned several biographies of Hokusai.

Hokusai, "Mount Fuji"

Hokusai, “Mount Fuji”

In Hokusai’s “36 Views of Mount Fuji”,   he captured the iconic mountain under numerous conditions.  Monet did the same with his “series paintings”, but perhaps most famously with his Rouen Cathedral paintings.  Here, the monolith is transformed by light.

 

monet_rouen1

Monet, “Rouen Cathedral”

 

In 1968 Roy Lichtenstein used photos of Monet’s cathedrals for a series of paintings and lithographs, using not the Impressionist dash or even the pointillist’s dot, but the banal Benday dot.

Lichtenstein not only reinterprets Monet’s series, but gives a nod to the original print source of Hokusai.

Prints by Hokusai in Monet’s collection:

http://www.intermonet.com/japan/hokusai/

Videos:

Roy Lichtenstein: http://vimeo.com/29233321

Hokusai: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3FhFewRCY0

Monet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSMVyFmBnbY

Books of interest:

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Or order from your local independent books seller. Mine is Battenkill Books. Find the independent bookstore closest to you at IndieBound.org

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The Print Project: First Meeting with Tim Shesley at Corridor Press

Tim Sheesley

Tim Sheesley at Corridor Press

 

After spending the night at the home of artist Ashley Cooper and her family in the surprisingly beautiful Cooperstown, New York, I headed over to the rolling hills of Otego to meet with Tim Sheesley at Corridor Press.

Tim  showed me samples of other artist’s work to give me some ideas of how I might use the medium in my own work.  I was thinking a lot about this myself.  The research I have been doing over the last weeks not only into lithography, but also other forms of print making, made me think how I might best use the medium to expand what I was doing in paint. But until I get my hands dirty, I am not really going to know what will work best for me.

Sondra-Freckeltonf

Sondra Freckelton copyright © Sondra Freckelton, 2009, “Braid and Tea Pot “, original lithograph from stone and plates paper size: 11.25″x13” printed in an edition of 42,   paper Rives BFK white

 

I am especially interested in the ways I can use print making to explore the use of color in my work. There are two ways of going about this (I am sure there are more, but these are the ways that most interest me at the moment). One is to use what printers call “process” color. That is to break down the image into CMYK – cyan, yellow, magenta and black. This is also the way the color is broken down to make a straight forward reproduction of a piece.  When an artist uses this method of separation, its a little like math for artists, as they have to think about the layering of colors to achieve a full color variation.

The other way to approach the print is to pull particular colors from the original and lay them down distinctly, one next to the other. There can be some mixing, of course. But since you may not have the elements of a color wheel — red, yellow, blue — but colors like umber, lavender and ocher, it is far more likely that you would lay them down next to each other and not over each other.

I love seeing how artists use lithographs and all the variations involved:  the type of plate, the quality of ink, color of paper, and the drawing medium.

Here is a video of Tim showing me how Sondra Freckelton produced the print pictured above.  I took the video without looking through the camera, so that Tim wouldn’t think about it while talking to me. Please forgive the occasional missing head.  Video of Tim Sheesley.

You can check out the prints of the artists featured here at Tim’s website: Corridor Press.

Books of interest:

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Or order from your local independent books seller. Mine is Battenkill Books. Find the independent bookstore closest to you at IndieBound.org

The Print Project

Corridor Press

 

In April I will be working with Tim Sheesley, the owner and master printer of  Corridor Press, a collaborative professional lithography studio in Otego, New York, where I will be creating a set of color lithographs.

 

Richard Haas, "Flatiron Building"

Richard Haas, “Flatiron Building”

I haven’t made prints since I studied with artist Richard Haas and master printer Catherine Mosley at Bennington College.  Cathy made many of Robert Motherwell’s prints.

 

At that time I was an utter failure as a printer.  Once I pulled one copy of the print, I didn’t see the point in making another.  The very essence of printmaking escaped me. In those days, I took abandoned etching plates with someone else’s images on them, to the sculpture shop, where I cut them into shapes and defaced them with an oxyacetylene torch.  With little regard to the damage such a plate might do to a press I made a print, and before making another I would alter the plate again. (Perhaps I shouldn’t be sharing this information before I work with Tim.)

Parke Print a-1_edited-1

Leslie Parke, etching made with used plate,  band saw, oxyacetylene torch and grinder.

Moving to a new medium is never really about replicating what you do in another medium.  While there is imagery in my painting that I’d like to explore in lithography, I am not interested in replication, but in a conversation between these two mediums.

 

Is there a painting of mine you would like to see re-imagined in print? I was thinking of working with the tree paintings, but I would be interested in what you think.  Drop me a line, if you have a suggestion.