Masterpiece Fair 2017 - Post War and Contemporary monochrome prints

Printed in Black and White: David Hockney, Richard Diebenkorn, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra,Donald Judd, Bridget Riley and Carmen Herrera

Lyndsey Ingram Gallery celebrates its first year – and second appearance at Masterpiece – with a selection of important 20th Century artists, all of whom explore and experiment creatively with the medium of printmaking and its wide variety of techniques. The artists on display include David Hockney, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Diebenkorn, Donald Judd, Richard Serra, Bridget Riley and Carmen Herrera. The stand focuses on monochrome works in black and white with a bold, graphic nature. Uncomplicated by colour, these works allow us to more easily focus on the diverse and complex mechanical processes of mark-making in prints.

‘In our first year of operation, as we look forward to our gallery opening this autumn, we want to start as we mean to go on,’ says gallerist Lyndsey Ingram, a specialist in 20th-century original prints. ‘We are curating our stand with monochrome works in order to create a more focused experience for viewers, pairing our selection down to black and white in order to present a carefully considered stand that reflects the range and quality of printmaking in the second half of the 20th century. This also points to how we will show such work in our new gallery, which will be small and tightly curated. The idea is to encourage viewers to come in, look closer and learn more about top quality original prints by modern masters, whether they are newcomers or connoisseurs.’

David Hockney and Richard Diebenkorn: Printing as Drawing

All of the artists shown here use print-making as a means to explore aspects of their wider practice. For example, in David Hockney’s iconic portraits of his friend, model and muse, the fashion designer Celia Birtwell, the artist employs Tusche lithographic ink, allowing him to draw freely and create gestural, brush-like effects. Hockney captured her in varying poses and natural states (also seen in the other ‘Celia’ portraits on display here) for which the immediacy and simplicity of Tusche was essential. In this way they can be seen as sketches or studies.

Richard Diebenkorn’s lithograph ‘Portait of a Seated Woman’, (1965) is also highly gestural and has the immediacy of a sketch or drawing. Unlike Diebenkorn’s atmospheric paintings, his drawings relied on direct observation – seen here in his choice of lithography as a print-medium, which allows for more spontaneous marks. He liked his works to develop organically, with little pre-planning.

Typically Diebenkorn’s drawings of figures are seated or reclining, and this lithograph is aligned with his ink drawings of anonymous females of around the same time. Important here is the deliberately vague identity created by the minimal facial features and title, which shows a consistent focus on the universality of the human form and condition. The strong, well-marked volumes of the body emphasise Diebenkorn’s interest in the body’s formal relationship with its surroundings.

Bridget Riley and Carmen Herrera: Geometry, Pattern and Print

Hockney and Diebenkorn’s looseness and spontaneity create an interesting juxtaposition with the geometric nature of prints by Bridget Riley and Carmen Herrera. Bridget Riley’s Untitled (Fragment 6) screenprint on Plexiglas (1965) employs an unusual medium. The image is printed, in reverse, on the verso of the Plexiglas. The artist also signs and numbers the print from the back, in reverse. Here Riley is exploiting the inherent properties of her chosen printmaking materials to achieve a deceptively simple effect: a pristine, almost glossy, finish in contrast to the usually matte surface of printed ink.

Screenprints by Herrera are extremely rare and Black and White (2009) is one of only a handful of print editions published by the artist. In this typical example of her work in both print-making and painting, the artist creates the illusion of depth and space in the optical play of forms across a flat surface.

Donald Judd and Richard Serra: Sculptors in Print

The sculptors Donald Judd and Richard Serra use printmaking to investigate three-dimensional form. Judd’s prints enable him to visualise ideas of defining space, while Serra explores ideas of monumentality and the power of form. Judd’s ‘Untitled’ (1978-79) is from a series of 15 aquatints, all parallelograms, and all in black. In each subtle variation, contained within exactly the same dimensions, Judd slightly alters the pattern of vertical and horizontal lines. As a result, the illusion of perceived depth, size and the weight of the form that we see changes. This work is the last in the series of 15.

Judd has chosen a familiar shape – the parallelogram – one that we recognise from architectural drawings, often used to create the illusion of three-dimensional space, but here it has no role other than to be a form itself. Despite this, we still anticipate the illusion, so the shape feels as though it holds potential for hidden corners or unseen depths. Judd uses the white of the paper to show light and space – these allusions are as deliberate and important as the marks he adds. The white and black are of equal value. Serra uses deeply bitten etching plates and carborundum collography (a gritty paint applied to the plate which, when put through the press, embosses the paper) to give a sculptural weight and relief to two-dimensional works on paper, as seen in his ‘Paths and Edges #5’, (2007).

Ellsworth Kelly: Surface Tension

As with Serra, Ellsworth Kelly’s prints are often intimately related to his works in other media, their compositions are reminiscent of arcs and ellipses replicated in the artists’ painting and sculpture. Kelly’s lithographs also reference the surface of the print itself. They are immaculately smooth and flat. The tension between the sharp edges of the matte, densely pigmented forms and the blank sheet creates the illusion of optical activity and shifting planes. Kelly created his first two major series of lithographs in the early 1960s with Maeght Editeur in Paris: a plant series, and a suite of twenty-seven abstract lithographs that traced his use of shape and colour in past paintings. Black (1964 – 65) is the first in this series, and relates to the very first painting Kelly made on his arrival in New York from France in 1954.