What is an original print?
Dealer Alan Cristea on why a print is not a reproduction; and Cornelia Parker and Michael Craig-Martin on printmaking as a democratic form.
Produced by Griselda Murray Brown. Filmed & edited by Petros Gioumpasis. Artworks by Cornelia Parker, Michael Craig-Martin, Antony Gormley, Emma Stibbon and other artists, at Alan Cristea Gallery, London.
ALAN CRISTEA: Print covers so many different things. Postcards are printed, posters are printed. So print is this huge generic term.
When we talk about original prints, we're talking about artists making things specifically for the medium in question so that-- and that can be etching. It can be lithography. It could be screen print and woodcut, any of these things. But they're made specifically for that medium. They're not copies of paintings. They're not copies of watercolours.
MICHAEL CRAIG-MARTIN: I nearly always do prints in sets. And there's something very nice about being able to do a sequence of things that are related. And most of my prints come in those kinds of sets. With painting, I may have a mental set, but it's very unlikely that somebody is going to come in and buy a set of 12 paintings.
These works are part of a set, yes. And there are certain characteristics to them. One object-- they're all the same size. They're different colours. The colour of the background runs through the object.
Sometimes I differentiate, obviously, all the colours in the object. So there are certain unifying things that-- it's a very simple set of just one object at a time.
CORNELIA PARKER: I mean, what's nice about working with a master printer is he's-- Pete Kosowicz has been working with prints for 40 years. And he's-- you know, knows every technique. But what was nice is that I was cross-pollinating techniques. And so he'd never done this before. And so, you know, for him it was just as exciting as it was for me.
So we are both like little kids. Let's try this out. Let's try this out. It was a hybrid technique. It was sort of like a photogram stroke, photogravure.
This first one is called an enigma. I called it an enigma, because it is very hard to determine what it is. But it's a sweet jar, glass sweet jar. And I put a net over it, the net you normally get over bottles of wine to protect them.
And I placed it on the photograph viewer plate. And the middle of the print, where the object touches the plate, I laid it down and exposed it to light. And where it sits on the plate, it's in perfect focus and all the rest of it's out of focus, which I really like, you know.
So you get a little bit of the real object, and then you get the shadow of the object. You know, one of them I smashed on purpose, which is in the show here, was a monkey wrench. So this silver-- an image of a silver coffee pot was smashed into little pieces by me was a monkey wrench. And I quite like that. You know, it's a 2D representation of a 3D object.
MICHAEL CRAIG-MARTIN: People who are really engaged in printmaking are usually people who become very involved with the techniques of print, the differences in those techniques, which definitely does involve working with master printers. And in the 20th century, there's three or four people-- there's only three or four people who I would really put in this category. Picasso is obviously one. Richard Hamilton is another, Jasper Johns.
Connie Parker, who unlike me, she's just started making prints. But I can see the way she approaches it, the way she thinks, the way she looks at things, the way she looks at techniques. She is very-- she is highly likely to produce prints in that traditional sense of serious engagement with a master printer.
CORNELIA PARKER: I mean, I find printmaking very exciting for my practise, because it means I can move through ideas very quickly. And then you can make as many of them as you want, which is very exciting to me, the idea that you have an idea, a few minutes later it's there. And then you can make 20 of them.
And also that means it's a much more affordable thing. You know, as an artist who's come from a working class background, the idea of owning art is really hard. And so the idea of the print world for me seems very democratic.