Thursday, July 31, 2014

Crown Point Press

Perhaps it is my West Coast orientation, but Crown Point Press in San Francisco has captured my attention as an important player in the modern printmaking world. It helps that both Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud, two of the gods in my personal art pantheon, worked and published there. It also helps that Kathan Brown, founder and director, is articulate, outgoing, and good at promoting the field of printmaking and Crown Point's own accomplishments. The company's website provides a history of its development, and it also gives a brief description of its character:
Crown Point Press was founded in 1962 by Kathan Brown in order to use traditional printmaking techniques for new art ideas. Crown Point works with artists by invitation who travel from Europe, Japan and various parts of the United States to work with etching in the San Francisco studios. When artists work in Crown Point's studios they are assisted by master printers and the work results in original prints (sometimes called multiple originals) which are hand-printed in limited editions....
I am new to this whole universe, and as usual my approach includes some background research. In the process of web surfing, Crown Point has popped up repeatedly. One of the first entries that caught my attention was a mention of Richard Diebenkorn doing printmaking there. Over the last few months, I have accumulated four books and six DVDs about monotypes and printmaking; half of each are published by Crown Point. There is not a lot of educational material on the website itself, but it does provide a useful summary of the field of printmaking:
In printing, ink is transferred to paper from another material, usually a metal plate or a wooden block. If the plate or block has been worked so it will receive ink in the same way each time it is applied, then there is a matrix and more than one print can be made.
Before electrostatic, ink jet, and other new ways of printing were invented for use with computers, everything was printed in one of only four ways: reliefintagliostencil, and planographic.
The matrix, or ink-holding surface, is different for each one. In relief printing (woodcut) the ink sits on the top surface of a plate or block that has been carved. In intaglio (etching and engraving) the ink sits in the grooves. In stencil printing (silkscreen) there is a hole cut in the matrix and ink is pushed through it. In planographic printing (lithography) the matrix is flat, and the printing part is treated to hold ink, the other parts to repel it.
Crown Point certainly seems to be at the top of the printmaking world, at least in the western U.S. More significantly, on a personal level, its whole history, location, and orientation are very appealing to me. With New Mexico also an apparent center for printmaking, I feel that I am at home in my own region, It is another aspect of the affiliation I feel for this medium.

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