Tag: chalcography

James Abbott McNeill Whistler: a true lover of Venice

“If the man who paints only the tree, or the flower, or other surface he sees before him were an artist, the king of artists would be the photographer. It is for the artist to do something beyond this.”
James Abbott McNeill Whistler

James Abbott McNeill Whistler was a great and famous American painter, who became famous for works such as “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1” also known as “Whistler’s Mother”.

Whistler’s Mother

What the fewest people know, however, is his genius in the production of chalcographic engravings: Whistler has been one of the most inventive and influential engravers in history, making almost 500 engravings in five decades.
He approached engraving in 1857, at the age of 23, as a gifted and passionate young draughtsman, using the chalcographic technique to capture and reproduce quick sketches at the time when engraving was used as a mere reproductive technique.
From the 18th century onwards, in fact, the art print had become almost exclusively a means of reproducing works of art and portraits, going towards a real industrialisation.
At the end of the 19th century, with the birth and success of photography, engraving was able to free itself of its utilitarian function, thanks to artists such as Whistler, who rediscovered the vitality and autonomy that characterized it at the beginning.

In his first years of experimentation with this technique he worked outdoors, drawing on suitably prepared copper, and then proceeding to morsure in his room, travelling around Alsace-Lorraine and the Rhineland.
In 1859 he moved to London, where he produced views of the Thames, maintaining the purity of unadorned realism inspired by Japanese prints.
At that time he also began to rub the inks in an expressive way and to work using the technique of drypoint, preferring it to etching, for the production of portraits and figures.

From September 1879 Whistler moved to Venice to produce twelve etchings, commissioned by the Fine Arts Society of London, which expected the return of the artist after a stay of three months.
The artist instead stops in the city for fourteen months and produces fifty etchings, over a hundred pastels, reaching its creative peak.
The views of smaller canals, the entrances to palaces, the reflections dancing on the water and the dark evanescent landscapes represent places known by the locals, far from the tourist routes, just before Venice was sold to the masses

As a supporter of “Art for Art’s sake”, in the celebration of visual beauty, his production is an honest work that shows the most intimate spaces of Venice, showing the viewer the city through the eyes of a Venetian and helps to redraw the map of the city.
Etching gave Whistler the opportunity to combine the speed of execution, quickly drawing ideas on the plate, with the possibility of perfecting and developing them across multiple states, highlighting its complex aesthetics.
His work, with such an innovative approach, has not only attracted followers and imitators, but has also influenced the entire art world.

“I learned to know a Venice in Venice that the others never seem to have perceived…”

James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Sources
https://www.frasicelebri.it/frasi-di/james-mcneill-whistler/ https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Abbott_McNeill_Whistler
https://themitchellgallery.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/james-mcneill-whistler/
https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/whet/hd_whet.htm
https://news.virginia.edu/content/museum-opens-printmaking-venice-exhibit-inspired-whistler-s-art
https://www.plumplumcreations.com/the-history-of-printmaking-part-2/

Engraving – part #1

In this series of blogposts I try to explain to those who don’t know the techniques that I have personally used to produce my works and I try to share the charm of the engraving in the production of unique works.

I will try to be as succinct as possible, trying not to bore you with too many technical terms, and share my creative experience, through the knowledge of the creative process. I hope I can help you to understand the work necessary to create an engraving, as well as to make you appreciate the beauty that you can perceive. If you are curious and want to know more, the links of the sources you’ll find at the bottom of the page will be very helpful.

The techniques that I used in the production of my engravings are divided into three categories and take their name from the material used as a matrix (the matrix is the support that is processed and then inked and printed on the sheet of paper):

1. XYLOGRAPHY: from the greek XILON (wood) is the direct engraving on a wooden board. A variant is the Linocut, the direct engraving of a linoleum slab.

2. CHALCOGRAPHY: from greek CALCO (copper) is the direct engraving (or through acids) of a metal plate.

Campo della Maddalena – Chalcography

3. LITHOGRAPHY: from the greek LITHOS (stone) is the engraving using a pencil (or lithographic ink) of a stone slab.


1. XYLOGRAPHY AND LINOCUT
The xylography and linocut are embossed techniques. The surface of the plate is the one that receives and transfers the color to the paper sheet; signs engraved remain white. In this case, the drawing should be developed in negative, imaging that the engraved signs are white space that will leave bare the paper after printing, and the parties that have not been removed of the the plate as the colorful signs that compose the drawing.

The direct engraving (without the support of acids) of the sheet of wood (or linoleum) is made with chisels and gouges of various shapes, following the drawing which was previously traced on the plate, considering that the print will mirror compared to the visible signs on the plate. The block can be in wood thread (a panel of wood cut in the sense of the fiber) or head wood (when the panel of wood is cut in the direction perpendicular to the fiber).

The linocut block is a tablet made of linoleum, a modern material composed of a mixture of linseed oil, resins, cork dust and wood lying on a large plot of hemp.
The xylographic block and the linocut one are printed through the inking roller of the plate and the use of a printing press, a flat vertical press or a roller press gravure, following the expedient to place two guides at the sides of the plane of the press, of the same thickness of the plate.
This technique is suitable to the development of extremely graphic works, with clear and strong signs and, where the press uses a single matrix, while you can get much more detailed work, with different colors and shades of light and dark, when the press is obtained by the use of multiple arrays printed one above the other, making sure to overlap perfectly.

Fondamenta Ca’ Balà – Linocut

Sources

show