On View December 19, 2014–February 22, 2015
American Monotypes from the Baker/Pisano Collection is an exhibition of unique prints from the permanent collections of the Chazen Museum of Art and the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, NY; all gifts from the Baker-Pisano Collection. The exhibition’s 56 monotype prints span the twentieth century and include work by Georgia O’Keeffe, Mary Cassatt, Red Grooms, Maurice Prendergast, and William Merritt Chase.
A monotype is literally unique. While the goal of printmaking—whether intaglio, relief, silkscreen, or lithograph—is to create a number of identical impressions, monotype creates a single, unrepeatable impression. A monotype is created by painting or drawing with pigment on a plate (copper, zinc, Plexiglas, or any impermeable surface), which is then printed using a printing press or other printing technique. Monotypes possess a spontaneous, painterly quality with a combination of printmaking, painting, and drawing effects.
Among American artists there was an unprecedented upsurge in interest in monotype at the end of the 1800s, when Americans in Europe learned the technique and shared it with others as they returned to the U.S. The popularity was part of the broad interest in experimentation that suffused the arts through the twentieth century, and artists continue to create monotypes to this day.
The rise of the monotype in America began in Italy in the late nineteenth century, where a group of American artists in Florence regularly met and experimented with the medium. Though artists had produced works by this method nearly two centuries earlier, the Americans’ enthusiasm for the technique gave it new life and spread the monotype to America. In fact one of these American artists, Charles Alvah Walker, probably coined the name “monotype.”