Hello readers. With the DC Jazz Festival well underway, we would like to offer up another Daily Dose of Jazz, this time by contemporary printmaker and bookmaker Stanley Kaplan. Kaplan was born in Brooklyn, in 1925. After graduating from the High School of Music and Art, he served two years in the United States Army during WWII. After the war, he returned to school- studying at Cooper Union and Pratt Institute. He taught art at Nassau Community College for thirty years and in 1978 Kaplan created Tortoise Press and self-published eight artist books. As an active artist since 1950, he has divided his time between wood carved murals, printmaking and artist books.
His work is in many major museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The New York Public Library, The Newark Public Library and the British Museum.
On creating, Kaplan likens printmaking to composing music. He states, “The procedural steps that are necessary to transcribe a sketch to a wood or linoleum surface delay immediate resolution. With on-the-spot intuitive judgments and hand cutting tools, I have to slowly invent the areas that will be black, white, textured or colored. Cutting each block is an adventure into the unknown and takes on a life of its own. I’m not sure where I’m going until I get there. The limitations of the medium force me to use an economy of line and expressive shapes. The roll and pull of the brayer, inking the surface, and delicate rubbing with modulating pressure requires time, patience and concentration. When I make a block print from a painting or a photograph with various tones and colors, I liken it to taking music written for an orchestra and transcribing it for a piano solo. I get the essence of the original with a new interpretation.
I like to create a second color like the harmony for a musical theme. With stencils, I am able to use two or three blocks and a number of different colors. By changing the colors and the sequence of the blocks, I am able to achieve many resolutions. The print is more than a drawing transferred to a material to be reproduced. Through the long process, the original drawing becomes refined, changed, and strengthened.”
For more information about the DC Jazz Festival, visit the organization’s website. To view or purchase prints by Stanley Kaplan, click here or come see them in person at our Georgetown art gallery. To see past prints from our Daily Dose of Jazz feature, click here.