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Abstract Art any work in which the subject does not recall or evoke reality. The first period of abstract art, from 1910 to 1916, constituted a reaction against naturalistic representation, and it was only later, with De STIJL (the Dutch artistic movement), that abstraction became every artist’s starting point. Kandinsky (1866-1944) began to experiment with abstract patterns with the idea of evoking some of the character of music. In India, abstract art through the use of geometric forms and symbols e.g. Chakra and Yantra has always been prevalent in Indian religion.
Abstract Expressionism art movement that originated in America in the work of Jackson Pollock in 1950, which dispenses with the painter’s normal apparatus and ideas of composition. The act of painting is reduced to a physical act – the paint is thrown or dripped on to a horizontal surface.
Did you know? Abstract Expressionism is also known as action painting.
Aquatint makes use of some of the principles of etching. However, no lines are drawn, and the design on the plate is achieved through the protection of some parts of the printing surface in repeated dippings in the acid bath. It became common in the 18th century.
Did you know? A development on these lines was the sugar aquatint, used by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) whereby a wash drawing could be made direct on the metal surface; sugar was sprinkled over the plate to provide a richer effect and the picture reproduced in monochrome.
Etching a form of engraving and a sub-category of the general form of Graphics, where a metal plate is first coated with a thin layer of a waxy substance, through which the design is then drawn with a needle-point. The plate is then placed in an acid bath and the lines drawn through the was exposing the metal to the corrosive action of the chemical, while the rest of the surface remains unaffected. This process is termed as ‘biting’. The process of printing is thereafter the same as with line engraving, the sunk lines retaining the ink which is transferred to the paper in the printing. Remember, an etching is not a photocopy!
Did you know? Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69) was one of the first artists who appreciated the freedom of expression which etching offered.
Linoleum cut is a relief print carved into linoleum rather than wood. Linoleum is composed of burlap coated with linoxyn; polymerized oil mixed with ground cork and pigments. The best grade, battleship linoleum, is usually brown or gray. Linoleum is more easily cut than wood and lighter weight tools are now made and sold for this process.
Generally speaking, linocuts are less esteemed by artists than woodcuts. Linoleum will not take very delicate or subtle cuts. The end result may appear block or poster like. However it is a good medium for artists who enjoy producing less exacting, more casual work.
Lithography is a method of printmaking based on the chemical repellence of oil and water. It is a process of printing from a smooth plate; the printing and non-printing surfaces are all at the same level, as opposed to intaglio or relief processes in which the design is cut into the printing block. Designs are drawn or painted on a level, porous surface with a greasy material, such as conte crayon, grease pencil or a greasy substance called tusche. The most commonly used surfaces are limestone or plates made of metal or plastic.
After the image is drawn, the stone is dampened and ink is applied with a roller. The greasy image repels the water and holds the oily ink while the rest of the surface does the opposite. The stone is chemically treated after the image is created in order to enhance the effect. The artist then places a sheet of paper on the printing surface and runs the paper and the stone or plate through a printing press under heavy pressure. The pressure transfers the inked design onto the paper. To make additional impressions the artist re-dampens and re-inks the surface. It is interesting to note that because of the equipment used and the knowledge and skill required for the printing process, lithography lends itself to collaboration between artist and printer. Also pulling a large print requires two people.
Today it has come to be seen as a well-respected art form with very unique expressive capabilities. Many artists combine lithography with other printmaking processes, such as silk-screen. Some leading lithographers of the 1900’s included Marc Chagall, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg to name only a few.
Pointillism a neo-impressionism technique whereby tones are split into the primary colours and represented on the canvas by juxtaposed dots which form the correct colour impression at a distance. This method was used as early as the 17th century by Jan Vermeer, however In the 1880s Georges Seurat tried to develop this technique in a scientific way by breaking up light into different colours.
Did you know? Computers and televisions use a similar technique to represent the image by using the colours red, green and blue.
Serigraphy (silk-screen printing or screen printing) is a 20th Century printmaking technique that was developed in America. It was introduced as a fine art technique with an exhibition of serigraphs at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. Seri comes from the Latin work for silk and graphein, from the Greek, means to write or draw.
The origin of screen-printing may have been in Japan, where artist made large, delicate paper cuttings in which the elements were joined and held together by human hair. The hairs served as stencil ties without interfering with the printmaking process.
In its simplest form, screen-printing involves forcing ink through a stencil that is embedded or securely attached to a silk or synthetic mesh screen. The screen is tightly stretched on a wooden or metal frame. Viscous ink is squeegee through the screen depositing the ink on the paper under the frame. A separate screen is used for each color and selected parts of the stencil can be blocked out, if desired, during the reprinting. Wet prints are usually hung to dry.
Artists such as Warhol, Albers, Motherwell, Stella, and Rauschenberg have all worked in Serigraphy.
Still Life is the study of an arrangement of inanimate objects, distinct from landscape or figure painting. Carvaggio’s (1573-1610) paintings of fruit and flowers are among the first examples of this genre.
Woodcuts are the oldest method of printmaking. They were first developed in China in the 9th Century. European examples date from the 14th Century. It is called a relief process because the lines and surfaces to which the ink adheres are higher than the parts that are not printed.
To create a woodcut, the artist draws a design on a piece of wood sawed across the grain. Pine is the wood most commonly used, although fruitwoods such as pear or cherry may also be used. After smoothing the surface, the wood may be hardened by treating it with shellac (a resin secreted by the female lac bug, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand). This makes it more durable under the pressure of a press and also makes it easier to carve strong bold images. The artist then paints or draws an image on the surface. The wood between the drawn lines is cut away, leaving only the drawn image standing on the surface. To make the cuts chisels, gouges or knives may be used. A roller holding a film of oil-based ink is rolled completely over the block. A sheet of paper, ideally an absorbent paper like rice paper, is placed over the block and the artist may then print the image by hand rubbing the surface with the bowl of a spoon or with another burnishing instrument. Under the pressure of the press the image is transferred to paper. The impression is pulled by carefully lifting a corner of the paper and peeling it off the block. Separate blocks are used for colour woodcuts, one block is used for each colour.