Marc Chagall--Poet with Wings of a Painter

Chagall and Monotypes

Between the years 1961 and 1975 Marc Chagall worked intensively with the monotype medium. Since his return to France he had bought a house in Saint-Paul-de-Vence where he installed a small intaglio press in his graphic studio with the help of master printer Jacqques Frélaut. In collaboration with Frélaut and the publisher and project manager Gérald Cramer Chagall produced over three hundred monotypes of exceptional perfection. In 1961 Gérald Cramer introduced Chagall to the monotypes by artists Paul Gaugin and Edouard Degas. The monotype medium appealed to Chagall as it is a combination of painting, drawing and printmaking. Its beauty derives from the spontaneity and experimentation of the so called “printed drawing” process which was favored by many Impressionists and early Modernists. Images are created on a metal or glass plate either by directly drawing and painting onto it or by covering the entire surface with ink and then removing opaque color with a rag or brush creating a subtractive image. Due to the time limitations of the drying ink the artist is compelled to work quickly which is a challenge to his creative intuition and mastery of skills. The image is then transferred onto an absorbent sheet of paper by pressing the two together using a printing press or by hand. The resulting monotype is a mirror image of the original and a unique print. Usually the remaining ink is not sufficient to create a second print so that the plate has to be repainted before another image can be pulled. Subsequent monotypes differ greatly from the first one because variations in repainting and printing are inevitable. They reflect all individual characteristics of the artist’s applications such as gesture, impulse and chance which is what makes monotypes so unique. It is the most "painterly" and immediately rewarding printing technique available for creating works on paper.

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