By Nina J P Evans

Monday, August 01, 2016

Picasso linocuts

Now showcasing at The National Museums, Lady Lever Art Gallery on loan from The Department of Prints and Drawings, at the British Museum are these Picasso linocuts. Produced in the early 1960s when he was 80 years old. Both Picasso and Matisse were known to work with lino printing making, the linocut thereafter was considered an established professional print medium.

What makes these perhaps a little more remarkable is the method behind the printing process known as the reductive print method, painting in layers building up the colour and textures on to a canvas. A single piece of linoleum is used and worked into further and further with each colour. The lino was cleaned and reworked with further details with each colour added, in addition to the background paper showing through in the design. In order to produce multiple prints, each colour would be printed about 50 times, as with the final cut there’s no going back, apart from doing a highly detailed black and white also to note with this technique is that there’s no margin for error. The plus point is that the print registration was easier to achieve, also the image could be worked on more easily as a whole. Previous methods used separate lino blocks for each colour, this could produce more pieces in a future run, but registration was a little more tiresome and the image composition on separate colour layers is perhaps more difficult. A piece of lino is far from the transparent like the stacking order of layers used in photoshop and key-frame animations made on semi-transparent papers.

It’s interesting to see how Picasso’s final piece evolves from the base background to each colour added separately and superimposed and concluding with final black and white and colour piece. The single colour pieces are bold and striking. It shows a certain kind of confidence and creative thinking that pushed the lino printing method into the world of multiples of colours, in a technique that puts artistic expression before the process of production. Yet, makes us appreciate the print production process more fully by showcasing all the pieces that make up the final colour composition with equal importance, unfortunately online here are just a few of the prints a total of 17 are made up just of these designs.
Prints featured
  Femme nue à la Source
Jacqueline Lisant
Nature morte sous la lampe

Further Reading

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