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The Printed Picture Hardcover – October 1, 2008
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Benson has brought a lifelong love of printing to this stunning book. --Printing World, November 2008
Those without the good fortune to attend [Benson's] classes at Yale, where he was a legendary art teachers for 30 years, can have the next best thing, this soon-to-be-classic book. --Richard B. Woodward, The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2008
About the Author
Richard Benson is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and former Dean of the Yale School of Art.
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If you have any interest in art prints this is a must read. Certain to be a reference book for decades to come.
* Very high quality illustrations
* The text is very enjoyable to read. He writes in simple English rather than Art-Speak
* Comprehensive look at all significant printing technologies
* A very useful glossary of printing terms
* I wish he did more to compare-and-contrast C-prints with inkjet prints. These are the most common form of new photographic prints one is likely to find in galleries and museums.
One of my favorite quotes from the book:
"The interesting thing that we see here is the artist's way of hanging on to old technologies after their glory days are over. Wood-block printing, engraving, etching, lithography, and even the more basic picture-making practices of drawing and painting - all of these technologies were tremendously influential is their day, but each has moved away from the broad cultural forefront and shifted over into the narrower realm of art. This is happening now with photography: the digital methods convey a great deal of photographic description, but they don't quite look like chemical photography, and will look less and less like the chemical forms as digital photography evolves. There will always be artists using the earlier technology in vital and effective ways, to make pictures that simply can't be produced with the new methods. Art is like some sort of backward country where old cars are sent to be kept running indefinitely, while modern times and new models race on ahead elsewhere."
A pet peeve of mine for years has been the pretentious word "Giclée". He skewers it:
"...at one point some ambitious marketer decided to call them "giclée" prints. This deeply stupid name has led many a purchaser to think they have some rarefied creature hanging on the wall when all it is is an inkjet print."
The majority of art prints you see on peoples walls are poster prints made using a printing technique called offset printing. This is a cheap way to mass-produce prints that look good. They don't have the vivid colors seen in fine-art prints, and they fade quickly since they are not archival, but they are inexpensive. Offeset printing is only one of the scores of printmaking techniques described in this book. Here is a partial list:
* Wood Engraving
* Copper Engraving
* Steel Engraving
* Stone Lithography
* Japanese Woodblock Printing
* the Typewritter
* Wet-plate photography
* Albumin Prints
* Gum Bichromate
* Gelatin Silver Print
* Chromogenic or C printing
* Duotone and Tritone
* Web Offset
* Photo Offset Lithography
* Laser Prints
* Iris Prints
* Dye-based Inkjet prints
* Pigment-based Inkjet prints
The publisher is MoMA and it shows. Everything from the cover to the paper and binding is first class. Richard Benson is professor (and former chairman) at the Yale School of Art.
This work by Richard Benson takes the reader through the major processes, starting at cave paintings, contending that printing “has existed as long as people have been making pictures.”
Benson attacks the subject process by process; relief printing, intaglio and planographic printing, non-photographic color printing, early photography in silver, the non-silver processes, and so on. Of most interest to me, was the chapter on photography in ink; chromolithography, collotype, pochoir, photo offset lithography, etc. The final chapters, fittingly, covers the digital processes and the future. In the last chapter, “Where do we go from here?” Benson states, “Wherever this show is going, the human being no longer travels there alone.”
I recommend this book to anyone wanting an overview of the photographic and photomechanical processes available past and present. It is well written, and contains a good glossary of terms, but unfortunately no bibliography or notes.