Today we have a new P/P post, featuring two prints of rooftop gardens. Our early 20th century print is by Stow Wengenroth. Wengenroth, although best remembered for his scenes of New England and the water, was actually a native of Brooklyn, NY and depicted the city in many of his prints. His lithographs eschewed color, instead relying on shadow, form, and lines to produce dynamic scenes. In the print featured below, Wengenroth used long shadows to draw attention to the brick bones of the building. The afternoon light highlights some fern leaves and eclipses others, giving the plant depth and an unruly volumetric presence. In the top corner, the cluster of rounded pots offers a nice visual respite from the straight, architectural lines found elsewhere in the print.
Our contemporary print is by NY artist Karen Whitman, who, like Wengenroth, printed a rooftop garden scene without the use of color. Instead, she relies on exaggerated and spirited lines, coupled with slightly distorted, full shapes. Whitman’s prints express an exuberance and playfulness of urban life. The chief source of her inspiration is New York City–its architecture, people and all the other creatures that inhabit this teeming metropolis. She is a master printmaker working in relief printing, and over the last several years, has produced a several fine images using the intaglio process.
On making prints, Whitman states, “My studio is in Woodstock, New York, and my images are of, or inspired by, New York City, to which I have been closely connected all my life. I sketch on location, creating drawings which will become black and white images. I print them myself with a hand-cranked horizontal proof press from 1914. The press was designed to proof metal type before it was printed on higher speed presses. This method is now obsolete commercially, but it is perfect for printing mounted linoleum blocks. I like the concept of keeping this machine, a masterpiece of mechanical engineering but outdated for what it was created to do, productive in a modern capacity. The result is good old-fashioned contemporary prints with infinite possibilities.”
Image on Left: Roof Garden[New York, New York]. By Stow Wengenroth. Lithograph, 1933. Edition25.
Image on Right: Rooftop Garden. By Karen Whitman, Woodcut, 2003. Edition 85.