Original Limited Edition Lithographs
Lithograph (meaning ‘stone drawing’)
Many great European artists, such as Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, and Francisco Goya, were dedicated printmakers. In their own day, their international reputations largely came from their prints, which were spread far more widely than their paintings. Influences between artists were also mainly transmitted beyond a single city by prints, for the same reason.
True lithography is one of the finest traditions in the history of printmaking. Created in the 1790s by Alois Senefelder, the lithography process has attracted artists of renown for over two centuries. Masters such as Goya, Delacroix, Manet, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Rauschenburg and Johns all have been captivated by this process of "stone writing".
The twentieth-century revival of lithography as an art form was first demonstrated in 1960 by June Wayne at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, now known as the Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico. Several artists continue the tradition at workshops around the world, such as Mourlot in Paris, Tyler Graphics in New Jersey, PrintMakers Fine Art in Arizona, Segura Publishing in Arizona, the Atelier Ettinger in New York, and under Professor Pollack at Michigan State University where J. Neil Bittner studied.
Lithography is based on the basic principle that oil and water don't mix.
A porous surface, normally Bavarian limestone, is used; the image is drawn directly on the Bavarian limestone with a greasy medium substance such as a grease pencil or tushe (a greasy liquid). Acid is applied, transferring the grease to the limestone, leaving the image 'burned' into the surface. Gum arabic, a water-soluble substance, is then applied, sealing the surface of the stone not covered with the drawing medium. The stone is wetted, with water staying only on the surface not covered in grease-based residue of the drawing; the stone is then 'rolled up', meaning oil ink is applied with a roller covering the entire surface; since water repels the oil in the ink, the ink adheres only to the greasy parts, perfectly inking the image. A sheet of slightly moist paper is placed on the surface, and the image is transferred to the paper by the pressure of the printing press. Lithography is known for its ability to capture fine gradations in shading and very small detail.
A print is termed, “original” if the artist of the design has worked on the printing element himself, as opposed to reproductive and interpretative prints which involve the use of an intermediary person to reproduce the design onto the printing element. Original prints are often only produced in small numbers that are numbered and signed by the artist in pencil.