“Printmaking has the prerequisites for exact criticism. It is incisive, neat, doesn’t spill over, makes its point graphically. Like all people, I am critical; because I hope to be beautifully so, I am a printmaker. For me, printmaking honors, because it criticizes, a world that is vague, vapid, gray, indecisive, boring, wandering, wavering, hovering, in-between, hiding, teasing, fence-sitting, dim, paradoxical, political, fuzzy, shifting, shiftless, infinite, two-faced, uncommitted. Such a world is our very selves. The print is a trumpet call for definition, conviction, taking a stand. When I take the etching needle in my hand the shifting becomes fixed, the in-between definite, the dim clear, the hidden seen, the teasing full-throated. ” – Chaim Koppelman
Today we are sharing two architecture prints. The oldest is from one of the finest architectural works of the German baroque period, Paul Decker’s Fürstliche Baumeister, oder Architectura Civilis. The work was published in Augsburg, Germany by Peter Detleffsen in 1711, and featured plates engraved by several master engravers of the time, including Bodenehr, Englebrecht, Probst and Kraus. They illustrate Decker’s designs for royal palaces and country houses, with details of their interior decoration, gateways, and gardens. In contrast to other architectural texts from the same period which focused heavily on theory and history, none of Decker’s plates were accompanied with text or elaborate descriptions. Rather, his work in Fürstliche Baumeister was created solely with the aristocratic architectural patrons of Central Europe in mind, in hopes to influence and inspire them while they built their palaces and grand estates.
The contemporary print is by Linda Adato, a master of color intaglio. The subject matter of her prints varies from the architecture of New York City, to the chambers and ancient ruins of Europe, to her own backyard. She “enjoy[s] exploring the geometry of the structures in these images and capturing the light at a certain moment or time of day,” always drawing attention to the balance between light and dark, hidden and seen. Adato’s work is distinctive for its delicate synthesis of composition, subtle use of color, and classical elegance. She has been making color etchings for over twenty-five years and is exceptionally skilled at “a la poupee”, a one plate method of color printing where the colors are inked and wiped on the plate prior to printing.
Image on Top: Erste Seite der Furstle Hoff Capelle, mit dem Herrfchafftle Stuhl. By Paul Decker. Copper engraving, 1711-1716. Published by Peter Detleffsen. Image size 14 3/4 x 14 7/8″. LINK.
Image on Bottom: The Palace. By Linda Adato. Color etching with aquatint and soft ground, 1993. Edition 19/75. Image size 23 3/4 x 15 3/4″. LINK.
Charles Frederick William Mielatz was born in Bredding, Germany in 1864. He arrived in this country as a young boy and studied at the Chicago School of Design. Mostly self-taught, his first prints were large New England landscapes reminiscent of the painter-etcher school of American art. In 1889, he was invited by the Iconofiles Society to produce a print of Wall Street. He fell in love with the urban landscape and for the rest of his life, Mielatz created urban imagery.
Mielatz was a master technician in the field of etching, reworking many of his plates numerous times to precisely master the feeling and composition he was seeking in his images. It is not unusual for him to have many states of each print. He was also one of the early pioneers of multi-plate color etchings in this country. Although the process dates back to the eighteenth-century, for most of the nineteenth-century it was not used. It is thought that the color prints of Mary Cassatt could have influenced him.
Although there is no hard documentation that he influenced other artists active in New York City, his choice of etching style is remarkably similar to the drypoints that Martin Lewis produced in the late 1920’s, and his choice of subject matter is not dissimilar to that of John Sloan, who started producing etchings of NYC by 1905.
Charles Mielatz was a member of the New York Etching Club, the Brooklyn Society of Etchers, and was an associate member of the National Academy of Design. In 1906, he succeeded James David Smillie as the etching teacher at the National Academy, a position he held until his death on June 2, 1919.
We are very excited to announce ETCHED, our upcoming OPG show of early 20th century and contemporary original etchings, which will open Friday, February 21, 2014. The gallery will host a nighttime reception that Friday, from 5-8pm, which is open and free to the public. The show will remain on view at the gallery until April 5, 2014, during normal gallery hours.
Etching as a form of printmaking evolved from metal workshops of the Middle Ages, where swords, armor, and tools were all etched with acid to produce intricate line and scroll work. Daniel Hopfer, a 16th century craftsman, applied these metalworking techniques to iron printmaking plates, and was the first to use etching as a form of printmaking. Many artists were soon lured by etching’s capacity to capture the essence and spontaneity of the artist’s hand in printed form.
ETCHED will celebrate the long legacy of printmakers who specialize in and focus on etching as a way of image making. As the show pulls from over a century of creative expression, viewers will be fascinated by the myriad of ways an artist can use an etched line to create tone, atmosphere, and detail. The show also highlights new technical advances in etching, including multi-plate color etchings and experimental solar plate etchings.
Highlights include meticulously etched architectural views by John Taylor Arms, two direct and intimate portraits by Isabel Bishop and Nicholas Vagenas, and velvety and dense lines found in works by Peter Milton and Otto Kuhler.
Selected Artists: Sigmund Abeles, John Taylor Arms, Frank W. Benson, Robert Birmelin, Isabel Bishop, Richard Carleton, Arthur Cohen, Robert Cook, Joseph Essig, Takuji Kubo, Otto Kuhler, Yvette Lucas, Charles F. Mielatz, Peter Milton, Ellen Nathan Singer, Joseph Pennell, Susan Pyzow, Nicholas Vagenas, Hank Virgona, Bruce Waldman.