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The Art of Printmaking

On View Friday, December 17, 2004–Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Historically modest in size and affordable, prints originally were conceived as an alternative form of art for the masses, especially when produced as multiples. Prints in the collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center by Western New York artists and mid-twentieth-century artists of Burchfield’s era illustrated the myriad ways that printmakers have expressed themselves in this medium.

They are produced in many ways, the most traditional being intaglio, lithography and wood cuts. Intaglio printmaking, which includes etching, engraving and drypoint, involves incising the surface of a metal plate that then gets filled with ink and transferred onto paper. (Intaglio, pronounced en-tal-yo, is Italian for carving.) Lithography makes use of a greasy crayon on stone which attracts ink during an impression. Wood cuts and wood engravings result from ink rolled on surfaces left behind after a block of wood is carved with a design. Artists today often experiment with new methods and materials, sometimes combining processes. Digital prints redefine the notion of printmaking by utilization of contemporary technology in concert with direct artistic mark-making.

Examples range from Buffalo’s back alleys documented by William J. Schwanekamp and wood engravings of regional subjects by Burchfield’s collaborator J. J. Lankes to Jean MacKay Henrich’s subtle abstraction, Endi Poskovic’s 6-color, multi-cultural woodcut called The Big Triumph in Red & Green with Blue Text and Joe Scheer’s highly detailed scan and gicleé print of Moths of Allegany County [Diachrysia balluca].