04 June 2009

Polly Apfelbaum on Printmaking

Artist Polly Apfelbaum selected prints for IPCNY's "New Prints 2009/Spring" and in place of a curator's statement, IPCNY has posted an interview with Apfelbaum.

Quoting from the interview:
It’s a very different world, and. I think many dealers still consider it a secondary art form... Photography and drawing have entered the "real art world," but for some reason, prints are still separate. People like to put things in categories. One of the things I like about prints is that more people can have them, and it’s a long history. However there is still a sort of ghetto for prints, which is good and bad.

This notion of printmaking as a secondary art form comes up again and again in discussions about the place of printmaking in the larger world of art. Perhaps printmaking is placed in the margins because the processes derive from commercial printing processes. Perhaps it's because the arcane details of technique tend to overwhelm the process of art making. Or perhaps it's because printmakers tend to work within the intersection of commercial imagery / pop culture and more formal fine art concerns.

I personally love printmaking for its accessibility to people who aren't necessarily literate in art-reading but who understand the nuances of contemporary commercial imagery. I like that my non-artist friends feel comfortable interpreting and commenting on my print work. I like that my non-artist friends feel comfortable purchasing my work, perhaps investing in original art for the first time in their lives.

NOTE: Great comment from Tibi about the role of the computers in changing the meaning of the word "print." I always forget about that...

1 comment:

Tibi Chelcea said...

Thanks for the link to the interview. Yeah, it's quite a bummer that printmaking is in such a low regard. I don't think that it's because printmaking is at the intersection of commercial & artistic worlds -- photography is much more so. In a way, I think the heyday for printmaking was last century, starting when artists have elevated printmaking from its utilitarian function of producing multiples up to roughly the time when computers have become widespread available. Computers changed for good the meaning of the word 'print', which is now either a menu command or a 'copy'. (I don't like this change, but I'm afraid this is here to stay). It's likely that traditional printmaking will go the way of playing lute or any other medieval instruments -- they are lovely to hear, they might have some enthusiastic followers, but end up being a very, very small niche.