The Evolution of Printmaking from Masters to Modern Artists

 In Albrecht Durer, Art & Gallery News, Artists & Special Collections, Exhibits, Itzchak Tarkay, Rembrandt van Rijn

If you were to survey the Park West Gallery Collection, among other media, you’d find many works of art categorized as various types prints – lithographs, serigraphs, etchings, engravings and giclees – for example. The printmaking medium is often misunderstood or unfortunately dismissed as an inferior method of producing artwork. The truth is, printmaking fosters a unique method of artistic expression and provides great advantages to an artist in terms of being able to easily produce and distribute their original works to the masses.

During the Renaissance, printmakers created woodcuts, engravings and etchings after notable paintings (Read about The Art of Etching at the Park West Gallery | Rembrandt website). Artists began altering compositions and creating prints after their own works and throughout modern art history, masters including Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, embraced and advanced printmaking techniques. Contemporary artists of today are continuing to develop the field using advanced technology and processes.

Art historian, author, and art critic Joseph Jacobs writes of contemporary artist Itzchak Tarkay‘s use of printmaking:

“Because they are multiples as opposed to unique works of art, prints, quite mistakenly, are often considered a secondary medium. But in Tarkay’s hands it is clear they are not. One look at a work such as In the Lounge, and it can be immediately seen that the artist has a powerful affinity for the physicality of the printer’s ink that virtually transforms this silkscreen into a painting. We can see and feel the three-dimensionality of the ink; it is rich and unctuous, like oil paint. We would hardly know that the pigment was squeezed onto the paper through a fine screen as opposed to being applied with a brush.

Tarkay’s prints are testimony to the extraordinary technical richness of printmaking and the degree to which it can be transformed into a medium of great personal expression. The artist has turned printer’s ink into oil paint, varnish, glazes, watercolor, wash, gouache, graphite, pen and ink, brush and ink, crayon and charcoal. The artist’s touch is so prominent, it is hard to believe that for any print there could be another example that is even similar in appearance.”

Read the full essay at the Park West Gallery | Tarkay website

In the Footsteps of Masters: The Evolution of the Reproductive Print, a new exhibit at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, examines the role of printmaking in the development of visual culture. Open through May 23, the exhibition covers a span of 500 years, featuring approximately 80 European and American prints from the 15th to the 20th century.

On view are original prints by artists Albrecht Dürer, Jusepe De Ribera, Edouard Manet, Jean-Baptiste Corot, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, William Blake, Francisco Goya and Grant Wood, and others made after the works of famous masters such as Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens, Annibale Caracci, Rembrandt, Jan Vermeer, Jan Van Eyck, Titian, Michelangelo and others.

For more information on this exhibit, please visit

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