Graphics (from ancient Greek γραφική [τέχνη] graphiké [téchne] , "drawing / painting [art]"), also graphics , is in the broadest sense the collective term for all artistic or technical drawings as well as their manual printing reproduction. In the narrowest use of the term, graphic refers solely to artistic printmaking, which is part of the visual arts . An original graphic is created independently, independent of templates and with the intention of using printmaking techniques for artistic expression.
Structure of the printing process
The printing processes used in the artistic field can be divided into the following groups:
- Through printing ( serigraphy , screen printing )
- Flat printing : lithography
- High pressure process : woodcut , wood engraving , shot cut , white line cutting , dough pressure , chiaroscuro , Camaieu cut , linocut , mounting pressure / material pressure , Zinkätzung
- Gravure printing process :
- Various processes, such as monotype and glass plate printing
The history of printmaking
At the time of their development, all graphic techniques were not developed for a special artistic use and therefore were not initially used specifically by artists. The single-leaf woodcut was created around 1400 due to a growing need for devotional images . Cheaper, faster and more productive than with the little pictures drawn manually in monasteries , the desire of broad sections of the population for private picture ownership could be satisfied. They were sold in monasteries and pilgrimage sites in order to let the believers participate in the magical effect of the "archetypes" with their help. The single-leaf woodcuts - today understood as the oldest graphic works of art in Central Europe - represented consumer goods for their owners, in front of which one could do one's private devotion in one's own four walls.
The emergence of the woodcut goes hand in hand with the spread of paper production. The en masse and, compared with parchment production much cheaper and faster production of the paper was the decisive prerequisite for this technique, which soon by the engraving was completed. The earliest sheet that was executed using the copperplate technique dates from 1446 and is therefore only a few decades younger than the oldest dated woodblock print. Compared to the woodcut, the copperplate engraving allowed richer representation and expression, because almost all tones between the most delicate gray and black could be achieved here and not - as with the woodcut - only the distinction between white and black. Until the development of wood engraving at the beginning of the 19th century by Thomas Bewick , copperplate engraving was the preferred technique for book illustration .
Artistically Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) perfected both the woodcut and the copperplate. Examples of his great graphic masterpieces include the cycle Marienleben (woodcut, 1502/1505) as well as the two sheets Ritter, Tod und Teufel (copper engraving, 1513) and Melencolia I (copper engraving, 1514). Like Tizian , Michelangelo and Raffael, Dürer saw the importance of prints in spreading one's own artistic reputation and generating income through the distribution of the prints. For example, Dürer published his graphic series in his own publishing house and distributed it through bookshops . The distribution of graphic sheets also meant that new artistic developments spread quickly and evenly throughout Europe .
The elaborate manual work process with which the lines were dug into the printing plate during copper engraving was simplified by the development of etching . Here the plate is processed by chemical etching. The earliest etchings date back to 1513 . Etching did not achieve the precision of the reproduction of copperplate engraving and thus did not replace this means of expression as the most important medium of book illustration, but it expanded the graphic arts techniques to include the possibility of reproducing the individual drawing style. Matthäus Merian and Wenzel Hollar were early masters of this technique .
But even etching limited the graphic arts to the representation of lines. That changed with the scraping technique (also called mezzotint ), which Ludwig von Siegen (1609–1680) developed. For the first time, it was possible to achieve a uniform surface tone for entire parts of the picture. This was done by a very labor-intensive roughening of the printing plate. The aquatint technique , developed by Jean Baptiste Leprince between 1765 and 1768 , replaced this manual process with a chemo-technical one.
With the development of lithography by Alois Senefelder around 1803, the chemo-technical rationalization of printing techniques continued. The production of printing plates spread and accelerated, making this technology suitable for the rapidly expanding daily press. For the artists not only a new possibility of expression arose, but also new professional fields opened up: they became newspaper draftsmen and caricaturists like Honoré Daumier .
Features of a graphic print
Original and reproduction
While the concept of the original includes the property of uniqueness (one-of-a-kind) according to popular belief, printmaking is generally created in a plurality of copies (multiple). But then, under certain conditions, every graphic print can be regarded as an original, regardless of how many copies of the print are available. Uniqueness is understood here as the expression of artistic thoughts, ideas and ideas that could "only" be realized with the technical possibilities of printing. Lothar Lang writes: “... [the original graphic] only has specific means of expression available to it, which can be realized solely through the means of graphic processes. In this respect, printmaking cannot be replaced by any other visual art and cannot be broken down into any other pictorial medium: The uniqueness of printmaking cannot be questioned. "This corresponds to the concise definition that is attributed to Erich Brauer: It is an original graphic," if the artistic design of the picture is inextricably linked with the technology of a certain printing process. ”Then it does not matter whether only one or more prints are made; on the other hand, the artistic work does not yet exist before the first print, it only exists and only in its prints. This describes the ideal case in which the artist directly and personally, possibly with the help of assistants, processes the print medium with which he wants to make the prints and uses the special characteristics of the print form and its processing as a means of expression for his image design. This becomes clear, for example, in woodcut and etching, the classic printmaking techniques that were still widespread in Expressionism ( Emil Nolde , Christian Rohlfs ).
A reproduction graphic, on the other hand, is produced according to an artistically finished model. It is the mere copyistic or even mechanical transfer of an autonomous work of art such as a painting or a drawing into a printmaking technique. For example, reproduction graphics produced as early as the 17th century. Peter Paul Rubens , by having copperplate engravings made of his paintings and circulating them for advertising purposes. See also: cliché print .
But that does not mean that any interaction between several actors is excluded from the outset. It is still an original graphic if an artist does not draw or cut his work directly on stone or plate, but rather designs it on paper or another painting surface so that a second engraver can transfer it to the printing form. A partnership of this kind was established around the 18th century. Giovanni Giuseppe Allezard and Ferdinando Fambrini for the joint production of maritime copperplate engravings. The classification of steel engravings by renowned engravers in England in the 19th century is doubtful. after pictures by William Turner were used for book illustration. Later in Paris, Mourlot and Sauret printed lithographs and heliographs, Raymond Jacquet even printed woodcuts based on contemporary designs and paintings from Georges Braque to Maurice Vlaminck . It becomes even more confusing when a painter like Edvard Munch replicates his own paintings as etchings or lithographs, and in this context Lothar Lang manages the equally confusing sentence: "These reproduction graphics are ..... original engravings or lithographs."
On the one hand, the doubts result from the fact that it is often not clear whether the authoritative artist wanted to create his work specifically as a print template or whether the engraver based it on a finished painting. Secondly, modern printing processes largely or entirely replace the hand of the artist or engraver when processing the printing form with photomechanical transfer from another medium. Many important artists such as Fernand Léger , Georges Rouault , Willi Baumeister , Victor Vasarely and, last but not least, Andy Warhol integrate photomechanical processes, use photo negatives , work with offset prints, etc., without wanting to deny that their work is recognized as an original graphic. These transformation techniques work accurately and as such inconspicuously in the sense that, unlike the woodcut, they do not give the result any characteristic character. In offset and screen printing, the photo-mechanically generated print can often hardly be distinguished from a drawing created directly on the printing film or the stencil, or from the original artwork drawn or watercolored. On the other hand, artists only use photomechanical transfer as a specific design tool in exceptional cases, for example in combination prints that apply different techniques to one printing form or use different printing forms for one print ( Robert Rauschenberg ). It is therefore difficult to classify the technology of photomechanical printing processes as an essential feature of artistic design.
Of course, one could determine the purpose of an artistic draft for graphic reproduction, if one wants to make this the decisive criterion, by the fact that the draft is then destroyed and thus cannot develop a life of its own, but quite apart from the fact that its later whereabouts are usually not documented is, why should one do that, after all the printing forms of earlier stitches and cuts are often made unusable, but also not necessarily.
On the other hand, the creative personal contribution of the person carrying out the work is greater with an engraving or a lithograph than with a photomechanical transfer, as is the case with hand-colored prints, provided that the artist does not color the sheets himself, but that is the contribution of the engraver and no longer the actual author. Its role can be accentuated by instructing and monitoring the transfer or coloring and documenting this with its original signature. Often, of course, this does not express more than consent to the print, which can already be assumed under copyright law. All in all, there are nuances of authenticity that are lost in the categorical antithesis of original graphics and reproduction, which by the way are usually neither visible in the individual print nor documented in any other way. The decisive factor should be whether the artist's artistic intention is expressed in the graphic realization, and if you want to attach this to an external reference point for the photomechanical process, then perhaps best to the original signature, even if this does not meet the expectations associated with it always fair.
When coloring the printed copies by hand, which used to be widespread in copper and steel engravings, the aim was usually to match as closely as possible. Occasionally, however, in the case of small editions, the individually different coloring should justify a “one-off-like” claim.
Edition and print
The individual sheet created by the printing process is called the “print”, the total number of prints is called the “edition”. It is the artist's right to determine the number of copies. In the past, due to the material-related wear and tear of the printing form (e.g. a zinc or copper plate), the number of copies to be printed on a graphic was limited, today the option of steeling the printing plate also enables a very large number of copies. With letterpress graphics, the print run is usually between 20 and 100 prints.
The limitation of the edition by the artist, which he notes personally on the sheet, not on the plate, is ultimately also a value determination. The lower the edition, the more valuable the print. A quality feature is a low print number in a modern graphic only in the case of non-steel drypoint, because here each subsequent print causes greater plate wear.
Once the prints of an edition and the accompanying test and artist prints have been made, it is customary to render the plate unusable, i.e. H. it is “crossed”: This is done, for example, by making several crossed cuts on the plate.
Signature and numbering
The artist's signature on the work, usually as a more or less written or abbreviated signature, is used to assign the work to a specific artist and to certify his authorship. In the case of graphic reproductions, the signature in the template or printing form already allows the assignment (“signed in the stone”). In addition, the handwritten signature of the artist on the individual sheet is almost the rule with modern graphics with limited editions. Originally, it was supposed to guarantee that it was an original print graphic, in which the printing form was created by the artist himself and then hand-printed by him or a printer in a limited edition. This also only applies to a limited extent to the technical reproduction processes. In addition, the big names of classical modernism ( Pablo Picasso , Georges Braque, later Andy Warhol) also have large numbers of non-individually signed prints that were created using the same printing process, sometimes from the same edition or based on the same template as hand-signed copies, which, apart from the missing signature, is completely equivalent to these, so that the individual signature is little more than an "expensive artist's autograph".
The most common way to handwrite a graphic is to use a pencil because a pencil signature is difficult to erase or alter without damaging the paper fibers. The signature is usually placed in the lower right corner. Any title of the graphic is in the middle.
More recently, a limited edition print run is usually numbered consecutively. This numbering does not have to say anything about the actual printing sequence, it is an identification that enables the assignment of the print to an edition. That is why the total edition is mentioned on every print. The serial number and the amount of the edition are separated by a slash. A graphic that bears the marking 20/100, for example, is the number 20 of an edition of 100 pieces. The numbering is usually noted in the lower left corner of the print. Numbering according to the printing sequence is only possible in printing processes with significant wear and tear on the printing form, such as B. a drypoint on zinc useful.
In the art market, the numbering is a value-determining factor as a designation of the origin from a limited edition, as is the individual signature by the artist as a highly personal certification of authenticity or correctness and authorship. Both are doubted in certain cases, see Salvador Dali . Apart from that, the artistic rank of a graphic should not be made dependent on the number of copies and the individual signature.
Own print and external print
A print can be an artist's own print. However, it is quite common for the artist to have the print done by a printer, i.e. a highly qualified craftsman. A master printer guarantees the highest technical perfection.
It is often known which printer made the prints for the artist:
- Horst Arloth, Leipzig, for Bernhard Heisig and Gerhard Altenbourg
- Atelier Fernand Mourlot , Paris, for Georges Braque , Pablo Picasso , Arno Breker , Salvador Dalí , Jean Dubuffet
- Atelier Clot for Toulouse-Lautrec , Lacourier
- Atelier Desjobert for Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall
- the lithographic printer Ehrhardt und Sohn, Dresden for Otto Dix and Hans Theo Richter
- Hartmut Frielinghaus for Horst Janssen
- Peter Fetthauer for Horst Janssen and Paul Wunderlich ( drypoint )
- William Garrett for Thomas Bewick
- Lithographic studio Leipzig for Neo Rauch , Matthias Weischer , Rolf Münzner , Christoph Ruckhäberle , Johannes Rochhausen , Tilo Baumgärtel
- Obergrabenpresse for AR Penck and Strawalde
Favorite pieces of traditional graphics
Some prints (maximum 10 percent of the edition) are marked with "EA" (e. A. ) Or Epreuve d'artiste . These are so-called artist prints, which are printed in advance for the artist himself outside of the sold edition. It is serious when an artist also numbers this series. This is done to distinguish it from the normal numbering in Roman numerals, for example "EA / IV." The designation "hc" ( hors de commerce - "not for trade") is also common. In Great Britain these prints are also marked with artist's proof .
Proof prints are state prints (also Epreuve d'état ) that are created while working on the plate and are often marked with "P / A" (proof). The proof requires a further change in the work. They can be particularly informative because they give some insight into the artist's working methods and because they can be used to follow the creation of the work.
In Rembrandt's etchings 7 to 9 states are not uncommon, Käthe Kollwitz has prints from the 11th state, and Picasso has up to 30 state prints . These unique pieces, which often differ in color from the later edition, are particularly valued by collectors and are more popular the older and more famous the artist is.
The proof of the final state of a print medium, which is made before the edition, is marked as "EE" (Epreuve d'Essai) .
Allowance deductions are deductions that are printed in addition to the edition in order to be able to replace a faulty print if necessary.
Variant . The variant is available in the colored graphic. In the case of a lithograph in three colors, printing a further, fourth color is a variant. The color woodblock prints by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, for example, exist in numerous variants. Variants (like the status prints) are shown in the catalog raisonné.
Remarque prints . Sometimes artists make a mark or sketch on the edge of a stone or an eraser plate for the etching test in order to be able to control the effect of the etching liquid. The sketch is usually removed before the print run. However, sometimes these remarks stop and appear not only on the proofs but on all prints. These prints are then called Remarque prints.
Preferential prints are called prints on specially selected paper that has not been used for the normal edition. Generally they are numbered Roman.
Catalogs of works contain in chronological order, structured according to techniques, all known works of an artist and their description, which is often supplemented by illustrations. As a rule, they are only created for very important artists. Catalogs of works can be viewed in large libraries or in so-called copper engraving cabinets.
Graphics in technical disciplines and media technology
In the technical disciplines and media technology , the term graphics stands for images (sometimes also sketches ) that can be reduced to basic geometric shapes. Typical examples of this are dash and line illustrations ( company logos , some pictograms ). As images on the other hand refers to figures that are not composed of basic geometric shapes - especially photorealistic illustrations.
In connection with data formats , images and graphics are often summarized under the term graphic formats . In terms of graphic formats, a distinction can be made between vector graphics and raster graphics . The term bitmap , borrowed from English, is also used for raster graphics .
The current graphic is used to illustrate news programs on television .
The term GFX is also used for some graphics .
The graphic professions include:
- Shape cutter
- Design assistant
- Graphic artist
- Media designer digital and print
- Web designer
- Wolfgang Autenrieth: New and old techniques of etching and fine printing. From witch's meal and dragon's blood to the photopolymer layer. Tips, tricks, instructions and recipes from five centuries - An alchemistic workshop book 6th edition, Krauchenwies 2010, ISBN 978-3-00-035619-3 ( table of contents , (→ excerpts online) )
- Rene Hirner (Ed.): From the woodcut to the Internet. The art and history of visual media from 1450 to the present day . Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit 1997, ISBN 3-89322-352-5 .
- Walter Koschatzky : The art of graphics . 11th edition. dtv, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-423-02868-8 .
- Lothar Lang: The graphics collector . Hauswedell, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-7762-0395-1 .
- Panek, Bernhard Walter: Typographic and psychological design of printed matter: writing and lines, ornaments, symbols and logos, images, layout, corrections and quality assurance , facultas wuv universitätsverlag, Vienna, ISBN 978-3-7089-0157-2 .
- Walter Dohmen : Der Tiefdruck , dumont pocket books 180, From copper engraving to photo etching, Ostfildern 1991, ISBN 978-3-7701-1658-4 .
- Walter Dohmen: The lithography , dumont pocket books 124, history; Art technology, Ostfildern 1994, ISBN 978-3-7701-1431-3 .
- Peter W. Parshall, Rainer Schoch: The beginnings of European printmaking: woodcuts of the 15th century and their use . Publishing house of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum and the National Gallery of Art , Nuremberg and Washington 2005, ISBN 3-936688-08-7 and ISBN 0-300-11339-0
Catalog of works by historical artists (in English):
- The Illustrated Bartsch . Edited by Walter L. Strauss. Abaris Books, New York 1978– (ongoing).
- Hollstein's Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts 1450-1700. various publishers, 1949– (ongoing).
- Hollstein's German engravings, etchings and woodcuts 1400–1700. various publishers, 1954- (ongoing).
- The New Hollstein Dutch & Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts 1450-1700 . Sound & Vision Publishers, Ouderkerk aan den Ijssel, 1996– (ongoing).
- The New Hollstein German engravings, etchings and woodcuts 1400-1700. Sound & Vision Publishers, Ouderkerk aan den Ijssel, 1996– (ongoing).
- Dieter Beaujean; Ophelia Rehor; Katja Margarethe Mieth (Ed.): Graphics up to 1700: from Dürer to Sadeler. Inventory catalog Museum Bautzen . Sandstein Verlag, Dresden 2011, ISBN 978-3-942422-32-1 .
- Information on Farbholzschnitt.at
- Network of graphic collections
- Prints in the archive of the Academy of Arts, Berlin
- Lothar Lang: The graphic collector. Henschelverlag Art and Society, 2nd edition Berlin 1983, page 54.
- Walter Koschatzky: The art of graphics . Technology, history, masterpieces. Dtv-Taschenbuch, Munich 1999, page 42.
- Contemporary Lucian Freud's etching Large Head , 1993, owned by MoMA, New York.
- Reproduction graphics after Lothar Lang: Der Grafiksammler, page 58, 160.
- Lothar Lang: The graphic collector, page 58.
- New and old techniques of etching and fine printing .
- Walter Koschatzky: The art of graphics , page 34.
- EA Artist's (September 9, 2009).