Printmaking

Printmaking is an all-encompassing term for multiple techniques of transferring an image from one material, called the matrix, on to another material, commonly paper or fabric. The process allows for multiple impressions of the same image to be generated relatively easily and inexpensively and for text and images to be disseminated broadly. Prints can be a powerful tool for grassroots activism and social and political protest.

Common methods of printmaking include woodcut, etching, engraving, lithography, linocut, and serigraphy/screen printing. The two oldest types of printmaking are intaglio (such as etching or engraving) and relief (such as woodcut or linocut). For intaglio printmaking, lines are incised into the matrix, filled with ink, then transferred to the paper or fabric by rolling them together through a press. For relief printmaking, material is removed from the matrix and what remains is inked and transferred to the paper or fabric. In both cases, the image is reversed in the final product, so images and text must be created backward on the matrix in order to read correctly in the final print.

Explore collection stories—texts, videos, and creative responses from faculty, students, artists, scholars, and curators to works in the Tang collection.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History Allison Kim’s “AH251C: Italian Renaissance Art” class examined woodcut and intaglio prints from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
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Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs and Malloy Curator Rachel Seligman led a class discussion about printmaking tools and techniques, and the students participated in close-looking exercises to understand the refined features of each composition, such as how subtle line quality can define shadow and light. The class also discussed printmaking as a mode of representation during the Renaissance, reviewing advantages and disadvantages to printing methods, image reproduction, and audience reception.
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Assistant Professor of Spanish Mary Kate Donovan led a discussion with her “WLS211: Survey of Spanish Literature” class about Les Caprices de Goya by Salvador Dalí.
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Dalí’s series, from 1977, re-imagines Francisco de Goya’s eighteenth-century etching series, Los Caprichos. Donovan shared examples from Goya’s Los Caprichos and students compared and contrasted the two versions using the Spanish language.
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Additional Resources

Browse the Lucy Scribner Library Research Guides on:

Artists’ Books
Art & Art History

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