Serigraphy ( also known as screen-printing or silk screen) is a versatile printing process, based on the stencil principle. The method first appeared in China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD), and gained popularity in 18th century Europe, thanks to imports of silk from the East. A group of WPA artists, who later formed the National Serigraphic Society, coined the word “serigraphy” in the 1930s in effort to differentiate the artistic application from the commercial printing application. Serigraphy was later made famous in the 1960s by Andy Warhol, who used the medium to achieve a bold, commercial look in his pop-icon prints.
To make a serigraph, a fine woven fabric is tightly stretched and attached to a metal or sturdy wood frame. This forms the printing screen. A stencil is then created on the screen, by the application of a blockout. Artists have experimented with numerous blockout methods over time- including paper, hand-cut film, glue, photosensitive emulsion, and gelatin film. The blockout areas become the non-image areas. After the blockout is laid and dried, paper is placed below the screen and thick ink is squeezed into a line across the top of the screen. The ink is then dragged along the surface of the screen with a squeegee. This forces the ink to pass through the open area of the stencil onto the paper below. For multi-colored prints, a separate screen is required for each color.
Below are several serigraph prints we have in our OPG inventory, by early 20th century and contemporary artists. Hope you enjoy!