The following article appeared in slightly different form in the first issue of Grapheion (Spring 1997), a "European review of modern prints, book and paper art," published quarterly by the Central Europe Gallery and Publishing House, Prague, Czech Republic. This issue was devoted in its entirety to the bicentenary of lithography.
As in any ecological crisis, an examination of causes can lead to recognition of solutions. Dwarfed in the nineteenth century by commercial exploitation, artists' lithography in America had never been a robust species. 4 Not until 1917 was an American workshop established for the sole purpose of providing printing services to artists; until then American artists either made lithographs in Europe or worked with commercial printers of uncertain ability. 5 In the decade after the First World War a number of artists made black-and-white lithographs of high quality, but, with the coming of the Great Depression, lithography was employed primarily by retardataire artists who worked in illustrative styles and dealt with subjects that ranged from socio-political comment to glorifications of "The American Scene." So strong was the identification of process with style that the painter Franz Kline would reject not only lithography but all forms of printmaking because of their concern with "social attitudes . . . politics and a public". 6
For the Abstract Expressionist painters of the 1940s and 1950s, Will Barnet recalls, "the graphic medium was considered the lowest possible way of expressing yourself. . . . [Art] had to be direct, it had to be on canvas, and it had to be immediate." 7 True, in the 1940s, when Stanley William Hayter relocated his Atelier 17 from Paris to New York, some artists--notably Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock--were led briefly to explore the intaglio medium, perhaps attracted by Hayter's emphasis upon automatism. Although Hayter's influence was strongly felt in America, his disparagement of lithography and his rejection of collaborative printing, as reflected in the teaching of such influential followers as Mauricio Lasansky and Gabor Peterdi, served, ironically, to widen, not to narrow, the gulf between painters and printmakers in the postwar years.8
At that time, Wayne wrote, lithography "was kept alive by artists who printed their own stones and who as 'printmakers' were consigned to an aesthetic limbo by critics, curators, and even by fellow artists who knew little of the medium and cared less."9 For the most part, the rays of light that penetrated that limbo came from Europe. Picasso's remarkable postwar lithographs soon found their way into American exhibitions; his works and others--many of which were seen in a series of international exhibitions of color lithography at the Cincinnati Art Museum--suggested lithographic possibilities previously unrealised in this country.10
In the mid-fifties, artist-lithographer and print dealer Margaret Lowengrund established the Contemporaries Graphic Art Centre in New York, where she engaged artist-lithographers to print lithographs for a number of noted painters and sculptors.11 In 1957, Tatanya Grosman, who began as a publisher of silk-screen reproductions, hired the artist-printer Robert Blackburn to print the first lithographs issued by Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE), although, as Pat Gilmour has observed, in less than ideal collaborative circumstances.12
While each of these activities contributed to a revival of American lithography, they could not, even in sum, provide an adequate and lasting life-support system for the medium. June Wayne's critical vision--a perception at the core of the Tamarind proposal--was that there were many facets to the problem, none of which could be solved in isolation from the whole. It would be insufficient to entice artists to make lithographs if they could not find opportunities for true collaboration with highly qualified artisan-printers, and it would be insufficient to establish fine workshops without thought to the economic climate in which they might exist. Everything must be done at once: entice the finest artists to make lithographs, train a new generation of master printers, establish ethical criteria, find new sources of supply, conduct research into materials and processes, determine the conditions in which lithographic workshops might survive and prosper, develop markets, and "restore the prestige of lithography by actually creating a collection of extraordinary prints."13 Nothing less than a simultaneous assault on all the problems could work.14
It was the comprehensive pragmatism of Wayne's proposal that caught the ear of a remarkable (and tough-minded) philanthropist of the arts, W. McNeil Lowry, director of the Ford Foundation's Program in Humanities and Arts; and it was on his courageous initiative--opposed by many within the American print establishment--that the foundation approved an initial, three-year grant in support of Tamarind Lithography Workshop. 15
In the early months of 1960, Wayne supervised construction of the building that would house the workshop (on Tamarind Avenue in Los Angeles, hence the name); completed Tamarind's legal and administrative structure;16 assembled a staff; and began acquisition--not an easy task at that time--of the presses, rollers, stones, fine papers, and many other items that would be essential to the operation. From a distance, I assisted her to form the detailed structure of the program,17 and Garo Antreasian, who would come from Indianapolis to become the workshop's first master printer, contributed advice as to workshop design, equipment, and supplies. 18
We determined, from the beginning, to set two precedents: With an eye to the loose (and at times corrupt) practices of the past, we would fully record and document every edition that we printed; and, in recognition of the printer's important role in their making, we would affix both the workshop chop (or blindstamp) and the printer's individual chop, to every proof or impression. These practices have subsequently been adopted in most American workshops.
By the first of July, when our first artist-fellow, the Philadelphia printmaker Romas Viesulas, arrived in Los Angeles, all was in place. Within the next two months, he and Antreasian completed work on Toro Desconocido, a suite of eleven large lithographs--the first in a long series of suites, portfolios, and editions that would come from Tamarind's presses over the years.
By deliberate intent, the more than six hundred artists who followed Viesulas to Tamarind came from every point of the compass and from every part of the aesthetic spectrum. Working in a diversity of styles, their varied technical demands intensified the printer's efforts to accommodate them, while, simultaneously, the printers' skills stimulated the artists' explorations. James McGarrell, who first worked at Tamarind in 1962, later recalled "the intense working atmosphere" thus created: "the constant sensation of being where important work was being done": an atmosphere that engendered a "wonderful give and take between artist and printer which caused both to do things [neither could] have done without the other."19
Early on, when the experienced Czech printer Bohuslav Horak joined Antreasian at Tamarind's presses, we quickly saw the degree to which the workshop's activities could be affected by differing lithographic traditions. As a teacher, Antreasian took it for granted that whatever he knew he would share, whereas Horak, like other professional printers before him, considered his technical knowledge to be proprietary information. He mixed etches behind locked doors; he processed stones in dead of night; then, come morning, he printed fine, grey washes with the mastery of a magician. Many Tamarind editions are indebted to Horak's skills, among them Adja Yunkers's imposing Skies of Venice; Matsumi Kanemitsu's elegant improvisations; John Paul Jones's rich, smoky washes; John McLaughlin's subtle, hard-edge compositions; and the earliest of Sam Francis's vibrant abstractions.
While many fine lithographs came from Tamarind's presses during its first three years, there were a number of rough spots along the way. In the absence of an artisan tradition in America, it proved difficult to find qualified candidates for the printer-training program, too many of whom were more concerned to develop personal skills for use in art or teaching than to enter careers as professional printers. Horak, who had become the workshop's master printer upon Antreasian's departure,20 assumed that apprentice printers "had to earn the secrets of the trade" through daily work and careful observation,21 and was quite content to see them learn the hard way. 22
Already, however, we had learned that (whatever the attitude of the master printer) inexperienced printers could not effectively be introduced directly into the pressroom, and Antreasian had designed a preliminary program of instruction which he would conduct first at the John Herron School of Art in Indianapolis and later, after he joined me in Albuquerque, at the University of New Mexico.
Even before the first printers from Antreasian's program arrived at Tamarind, Wayne decided--despite Horak's undeniable abilities--not to extend his contract. Irwin Hollander, a fine printer and a sensitive collaborator--the first master printer to develop his skills entirely at Tamarind--became Technical Director in July 1963; and in August, as a means to ensure that the workshop's staff of printers might gain access to knowledge that Horak had in part withheld, Wayne brought Marcel Durassier, who had printed for major European artists at the Mourlot and Maeght workshops, to Los Angeles, where his one-month master class provided a fitting finish to three intense and productive, if often turbulent, years of work. The "French connection" thus established was further reinforced in 1966, when Serge Lozingot, printer of Dubuffet's extraordinary Phénoménes, emigrated to America to become first a printer fellow, then, in 1968, master printer at Tamarind.
June Wayne would later observe that "creating the works of art was the easiest part of the Tamarind project."23 Certainly, it was the most visible. By contrast, Tamarind's essential (but unglamorous) technical and economic research went all but unnoticed by the pundits of the art world. As in 1960 we urgently needed to develop a broad palette of lightfast inks, we commenced a long series of tests and worked with ink-industry chemists to develop new and improved colors. We tested a variety of papers and worked with the principal paper mills and distributors to stabilise printing qualities and ensure durability and consistency of product.24 Similarly, we encouraged manufacturers to develop the sturdy, lightweight, large-diameter rollers for the printing of the immaculate color flats that (together with improved systems for precise registration) made possible the printing of a superb series of lithographs by such "abstract classicist" and hard edge artists as Josef Albers, Nicholas Krushenick, John McLaughlin, and Leon Polk Smith.
As need arose--often as a consequence of the requirements of individual artists--all manner of special processes were explored: suitable papers and binders for papier collé; techniques for printing on materials other than paper--such as plastic, metal, and leather; alternative methods for transposition of images; blended-inking techniques; acid-tint lithography; use of polymer acrylic media as drawing materials; incorporation of photographic elements into hand-drawn images; and many others.
Because of the shortage of fine, large stones, we worked successfully to extend the potential of printing from zinc, only to discover that the lithographic industry was abandoning regrainable zinc plates in favor of disposable aluminum, thus affecting supplies, and, in the process, underlining the fact that an artists' medium based upon materials used in commerce is always at risk. In response, Wayne initiated a crash-program of research, conducted in part by Kenneth Tyler, a student of Antreasian's who came to Tamarind as a printer-fellow in the summer of 1963, to determine the capabilities and limitations of a metal that, until then, had been little used in artists' lithography.
The foregoing are but a few instances of Tamarind's extensive technical research, which continues at Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque. Our discoveries (up to 1970) were incorporated into The Tamarind Book of Lithography: Art & Techniques (1971), upon which Antreasian and I began work in the early sixties. 25 Subsequent discoveries, or refinements upon older techniques, have been reported in The Tamarind Papers, a journal founded in 1974.26 Together, these publications have become a principal source of information about artists' lithography. 27
To spur the founding of new lithographic workshops throughout the country was a primary Tamarind objective. Aware from the start that however great a printer's technical skills and collaborative abilities, he (or, later, she) could not hope to survive in the tough, free enterprise world without a sound grasp of economic matters, Wayne commissioned a number of management consultants, business and art writers, and editors to develop a series of books, pamphlets, and "fact sheets" that covered every aspect of print world: the business practices appropriate to printmaking workshops, print publishing and cost-accounting, and the marketing of prints through commercial art galleries. 28
Henry F. Klein has written: "Perhaps [Tamarind's] unique gift has been the systematic way in which it has gone about accomplishing the tasks it has posed for itself. Many shops train printers. I know of none that so precisely define the necessary components of that training or engage in so systematic a program of technical research and development. Most remarkably, it has taken all that it has learned and developed and simply given it away." 29
By the late 1960s, most of Tamarind's objectives had been met, so much so that it had become commonplace to speak of the "renaissance of American printmaking." Even so, it was evident, as Barry Walker wrote in 1983, that "Tamarind had become too valuable a resource to close . . . [and] the single most important factor in the current vitality of lithography in this country." 30
Although Tamarind-trained printers now staffed professional lithographic workshops throughout the United States and Canada,31 there was no assurance that any other institution was prepared to assume Tamarind's complex role in support of the medium. Accordingly, Wayne, Lowry, and I began discussions with administrators at the University of New Mexico to explore the feasibility of founding a professional lithographic institute which would continue the programs begun in Los Angeles. In 1969, Wayne submitted a formal proposal to the Ford Foundation for establishment of Tamarind Institute; the foundation approved a transitional grant; and in 1970 the workshop was relocated from Los Angeles to Albuquerque. 32
By design, Tamarind Institute would become a largely self-supporting institution. Between 1970 and 1974 we continued to invite distinguished artists to make lithographs, but gradually, as such grants were reduced in number, we began the contract printing and print-publishing projects which would henceforward serve as the institute's principal source of the revenue needed for support of its continuing programs of printer-training and research. In 1974, the pioneer American modernist Andrew Dasburg collaborated with master printer John Sommers to create The Taos Suite, the first project in which Tamarind would serve not only as printer of the lithographs but also as publisher and dealer. In 1975, in celebration of Tamarind's fifteenth anniversary, fifteen artists who had previously worked at Tamarind were commissioned to make four lithographs each, one of which was included in the Tamarind-published portfolio, Suite Fifteen.33 These were but the first in a long (and continuing) series of lithographs made by artists working in diverse modernist and post-modernist styles, and published by Tamarind.34 Increasingly, in recent years, artists have sought to place prints on unusual papers; to incorporate photographic images, collage, hand-coloring, or monoprint; to add three-dimensional elements; or to employ new materials and processes ranging from computer-generated images and drawings made with xerographic toner to positive-working plates and "waterless lithography." Through continuing research, Tamarind has in each case found the means to realize the artists' intentions.
During Tamarind's Los Angeles years, a number of artists had come to the workshop from outside the United States--among them Allen Jones and David Hockney (England), Gio Pomodoro (Italy), JosČ Luis Cuevas and Rufino Tamayo (Mexico), and Rafael Canogar (Spain). In Albuquerque, in part because of the University of New Mexico's academic emphasis upon Latin American programs, Tamarind became even more deeply involved in international activities. With a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, the institute invited nine Mexican artists (including Cuevas) to make lithographs, and the exciting suite that resulted, Mexico Nine/México Nueve, was exhibited by museums in both countries. 35
In 1986, in cooperation with the United States Information Agency (USIA), two exhibitions of Tamarind lithographs were mounted for circulation to twenty-three countries in Europe and Eastern Europe; and later to Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. In 1987, in an exchange program with the Soviet Union of Artists, a Tamarind master printer Lynne Allen and artist George McNeil gave workshops in Moscow, St. Petersburg (then Leningrad), and Tallin, Estonia; subsequently, two Soviet artists made prints at Tamarind. Later, as the improving political climate made such ventures easier to arrange, artists from Poland, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria came to Tamarind. In 1995, master printer Bill Lagattuta and artist Roberto Juarez conducted intensive workshops in New Delhi and Bhopal.36 In recent years, about half of the men and women who enter Tamarind's printer-training program are from countries other than the United States; upon completion, most return to their native countries, where many work as professional printers.
Copyright, Clinton Adams, 1997. All rights reserved. Published by permission of the author.
ENDNOTES 1. Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Inc., a California non-profit corporation, maintained its Los Angeles workshop from 1960 to 1970. Tamarind Institute, founded in 1970 as a division of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, began operation of its workshop at that time and continues to this day. For convenience, I am referring to both simply as "Tamarind."
4. For artists' lithography in 19th-century America, see Janet Flint, "The American Painter-Lithographer," in Art and Commerce: American Prints in the Nineteenth Century (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1978); for commercial lithography, see Peter Marzio, The Democratic Art: Chromolithography: 1840-1900, Pictures for a 19th-Century America (Boston: David R. Godine in association with the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Ft. Worth, 1979).
8. Apparently embittered in his later years by the rise of collaborative printmaking in America, Hayter continued to disparage what he conceived to be the limitations of lithography and to deprecate workshops such as Tamarind, calling them "maisons de passe hotels where you can go for any purpose whatsoever" (Pat Gilmour, "Interview with Stanley William Hayter," Print Review 18 : 11).
For a perceptive discussion of Atelier 17 and the separate paths taken by painting and printmaking in the 1950s, see Riva Castleman, American Impressions: Prints Since Pollock (New York: Knopf, 1985), pp. 5-10.
10. The Cincinnati exhibitions were organized by Gustave von Groschwitz, a major figure in the history of American lithography; see Clinton Adams, "Color Lithography in the 1950s: The Cincinnati Biennials: A Conversation with Gustave von Groschwitz," Tamarind Technical Papers 1 (1977): 86.
11. In 1956, the workshop's name was changed to Pratt-Contemporaries Graphic Arts Center; following Lowengrund's death in 1957, it became the Pratt Graphics Center, with Fritz Eichenberg as its director. For Lowengrund, see Adams, American Lithographers, pp. 182-93; also Clinton Adams, "Margaret Lowengrund and The Contemporaries," Tamarind Papers 7 (Spring 1984): 17-23.
In a review of Trudy V. Hansen, et al, Printmaking in America: Collaborative Prints and Presses, 1960-1990 (New York and Evanston, Ill.: Harry N. Abrams and the Mary Leigh Block Gallery, Northwestern University, 1995), Gilmour writes: "Deriving from the roots co- and laborare, the word [collaboration] means to work together and entails reciprocity." In support of her view that such collaboration was often absent in early years at ULAE, Gilmour quotes Jim Dine, who told Sparks, "I never felt I collaborated with printers at Tanya's. Ever. So therefore there was no dialogue. And when I've worked best . . . I was at ease with the printers and able to talk to them." (Pat Gilmour, "Printmaking in America," Print Quarterly 13 [September 1996]: 334-37). See also Sparks and Wallach, op. cit. p. 72, 245.
14. Some writers on American lithography, having failed to recognize the inseparability of Tamarind's goals, point simplistically to a single aspect of its work; as examples, Riva Castleman's conclusion that the "ultimate value of the Tamarind experiment was in the proliferation of lithographic shops" (Prints of the Twentieth Century [New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1976], p. 166); or Judith Goldman's assumption that "Tamarind was above all an educational conception, and teaching took priority over art" ("The Print Establishment, Part I," Art in America 61.4 [July-August 1973]: 105-7). Such statements lead writers who unwisely rely on secondary sources to even greater oversimplifications; witness Linda C. Hults's dismissal of Tamarind as a "school for lithography" (The Print in the Western World: An Introductory History [Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996], p. 802).
15. Lowry sought response to the Tamarind proposal from thirty-two artists, museum directors, print curators, and other art professionals. Those who most strongly opposed the proposal were Eastern members of the Print Council of America, several of whom had links to Pratt Graphic Arts Center.
16. As a non-profit corporation, Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Inc., was in need of a legal structure, corporate officers, and a board of directors. See June Wayne, About Tamarind (Los Angeles: Tamarind Lithography Workshop, 1969); and, for greater detail, Lucinda H. Gedeon, "Tamarind: From Los Angeles to Albuquerque," Grunwald Center Studies V (Los Angeles: Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, UCLA, 1984).
17. June Wayne and I had met in 1948 at the workshop of the printer Lynton Kistler, when we began work in lithography. We had our first discussion of what would ultimately become the Tamarind proposal in the summer of 1958, which I spent in Los Angeles.
18. Wayne's original intent, as expressed in her proposal to the Ford Foundation, cited n. 3, was to bring a master printer from Europe, preferably Marcel Durassier, with whom she had worked in Paris, but Tamarind proved unable to compete financially for his services. As an alternative, she sought out Antreasian, an experienced artist-lithographer. See Clinton Adams, "Garo Antreasian at Tamarind," in Martin Krause, Garo Antreasian: Written on Stone: Catalogue Raisonné of Prints, 1940-1995 (Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1995), pp. 2-9.
20. Antreasian and I had planned to stay at Tamarind for only a year. In July 1961, Antreasian returned to his teaching position in Indianapolis; soon thereafter I moved to Albuquerque. We served as consultants to Tamarind's Board of Directors throughout the 1960s.
22. Most early printer-fellows were already experienced in lithography: Joe Funk, as Lynton Kistler's assistant (see n. 17); George Miyasaki, John Muench, Donald Roberts, and John Rock, all as artist-lithographers (Muench also printed for Lowengrund in New York); and Emiliano Sorini, as a printer in Europe; among these, however, only Funk remained at Tamarind for more than a few months.
23. Wayne, "Preface," cited n. 9. Within limits of space, I can mention only a few of the many artists who have made fine prints at Tamarind. For a list (to 1984), see Gedeon, cited n. 16. See also Catalogue Raisonné: Tamarind Lithography Workshop, 1960-1970 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Art Museum, ); and Rebecca Schnelker, ed., Tamarind Lithographs: A Complete Catalogue of Lithographs Printed at Tamarind Institute, 1970-1979 (Albuquerque: Tamarind Institute, 1980).
24. Gilmour writes: "These activities became especially vital in 1963 when a worrying new delivery of Rives [paper] was found to have changed its characteristics. Much later, it was discovered that the foreman at the mill, who had sole and secret charge of the formula, had died suddenly, and no one knew the exact percentages of the paper's furnish. The desperate attempts to restore its former quality resulted in the testing and remaking of no less than five different batches. . . . When the correct formula was successfully reestablished, Tamarind ordered its own watermarked making of the paper" (Pat Gilmour, "Wayne and the Quest for Fine Paper," from her forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the prints of June Wayne).
I express my deep appreciation to Pat Gilmour for making available this unpublished essay and an advance copy of her review for Print Quarterly (cited n. 12), as well as for many helpful comments about the context in which Tamarind did its work.
26. Volume 1 (eight issues, 1974-78) was titled Tamarind Technical Papers. In later volumes, greater emphasis is given to historical studies of 19th- and 20th century prints. Volumes 15 and 16 (1994 and 1996) are published in book format by the University of New Mexico Press.
27. Tamarind also worked to advance awareness and understanding of lithography through circulating exhibitions, the accompanying exhibition catalogues, and two films, "Look of a Lithographer" and "Four Stones for Kanemitsu" (the latter was nominated for an Academy Award).
28. Among the writers, researchers, and editors who contributed to these publications were Ray Featherstone, Ellen Frank, John Goldsmith, Calvin J. Goodman, Bruce Henderson, and Ruth Weddle. For a partial list, see Antreasian and Adams, cited n. 9, p. 453. [Back to text]
31. Notable workshops founded by Tamarind-trained printers include Collector's Press (Ernest de Soto); Hollanders Workshop (Irwin Hollander); NSCAD Press, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, and Landfall Press (Jack Lemon); Cirrus Editions (Jean Milant); Shark's Lithography (Bud Shark); Derrière L'Etoile Studios (Maurice Sanchez); Solo Press, later Solo Impression (Judith Solodkin); Gemini Ltd., later Gemini G.E.L., and Tyler Graphics (Kenneth Tyler). Other Tamarind-trained printers have made important contributions to other presses throughout the United States and Canada: Serge Lozingot became master printer at Gemini; Donn Steward did much to improve the quality of printing at ULAE; Charles Ringness, Anthony Stoeveken, and Theo Wujcik made critical contributions to the success of Graphicstudio; and Robert Rogers and Bob Evermon followed Lemon at NSCAD. For lithographic workshops in the United States, see Rebecca Schnelker, "Lithography Workshops: A Survey," Tamarind Papers 12 (1989): 86-94. [Back to text]
32. June Wayne was Tamarind's director throughout the Los Angeles years. I was director of Tamarind Institute from 1970 to 1985 (Garo Antreasian was co-director, 1970-72). Marjorie Devon succeeded me as director in 1985. [Back to text]
33. Tamarind's National Advisory Board chose twelve from among the more than 150 artists who had held artist-fellowships or residencies between 1960 and 1975Elaine de Kooning, David Hare, Matsumi Kanemitsu, Nicholas Krushenick, James McGarrell, George McNeil, Nathan Oliveira, Kenneth Price, Deborah Remington, Edward Ruscha, Fritz Scholder, and Emerson Woelfferand asked that Garo Antreasian, June Wayne, and I participate in the project, bringing the total to fifteen. [Back to text]
34. As of 1996, Tamarind has published editions created by more than one hundred artists; in addition to those represented in Suite Fifteen, they include Billy Al Bengston, William Brice, Squeak Carnwath, Roy De Forest, Robert Fichter, Frederick Hammersley, Margo Humphrey, Roberto Juarez, Robert Kushner, Mel Ramos, George Miyasaki, Juan Sánchez, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Steven Sorman, and May Stevens. [Back to text]
35. The nine artists were Alfredo Castañeda, Albert Castro Leñero, Olga Costa, Gunther Gerzso, Luis López Loza, José Luis Cuevas, Gabriel Macotela, Vicente Rojo, and Roger von Gunten. [Back to text.] ]
36. Support for the Indian workshops was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Tamarind printers have also given workshops or demonstrations in Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Finland, Mexico, Poland, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia. [Back to text]
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