the democratic nature

Julie Mehretu

Nadine Orenstein: What is it about printmaking that is interesting? “It’s a different way of thinking. When I was in art school at the Rhode Island School of Design, I attended an intalgio workshop in Mexico.  It conceptionally shifted everything for me.  It pushed me to think about how to make marks.” Julie Mehretu

Sunday at The Met -is a series of conversations with different artists.  This Sunday, artist/printmaker, Julie Mehretu talked about printmaking with Nadine Orenstein, Curator of Drawings and Prints.


Julie Mehretu, Algorithms/Apparitions/Translations, 2013

Julie Mehretu, Refuge, 2007, etching and acquatint

NO: What’s it like working with different master printers?
JM:  I have talked to a lot of musicians who work with a variety of producers.  It’s similiar experience.  You are able to see your work with different eye.  Each master printer has a specialty and technical ambition.  It’s their energy and ability to push the boundaries that is the reason I enjoy working with different printers.

Julie Mehretu, Six Bardos, 2018

NO:  What do you say to people who tend to de-value prints because there are editions.
JM:  It’s the democratic nature of multiple editions that I love.  It becomes something many people can experience.  The edition of prints is many museums and galleries around the world and many many people get to have the experience.

Julie Mehretu, Epigraph, Damascus, 2016, Photogravure, sugar lift aquatint, spit bite aquatint, open bite, framed dimension: panel 1 97 1/2 x 40 5/8

JM:  It’s so much labor to make it look effortless.

 Sugar lift is a way of creating painterly marks on an etching plate using a sugar solution and a paint brush. The areas you paint are a positive mark. It is a form of aquatint etching.

Spit bite is an alternative to bath etching as a way of biting an aquatint. To draw your image, you paint acid on a plate prepared with rosin. The acid is diluted by water mixed with spit–or with gum arabic if you prefer. The acid bites wherever it touches the plate, showing brushstrokes, drips, and dots. Spit bite aquatint resembles watercolor in the finished print.

Open bite is an intaglio technique in which large open areas of the plate are exposed to acid. The edges of these etched areas will collect ink, whereas the open sections will hold much less, forming areas of mottled tone surrounded by dark irregular lines. With this technique you create a lighter colour tone surrounded by a darker outline.

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