All About Prints is
a compact and informative short documentary that covers the basics of
printmaking across a variety of media. This program will be of
interest to artists, curators, collectors, or to anyone mystified by
the catchall term "print." Printmaking encompasses a wide
variety of processes that use different methods, materials, and equipment
to achieve a vast array of visual effects.
We begin with woodcuts -
a relatively simple matter of carving an image onto one side of a wood
block and covering the areas to be printed with ink. The next
major print-related development used copper plates, which allowed for
a number of variant processes such as engraving, etching, and aquatints.
Copper plate processes use acid to burn lines into the metal, which
are then filled with ink to form the basis of the printed image.
Lithography and screen-printing are nominally easier and faster processes
that require less sophisticated materials and equipment.
Beyond this overview of printmaking,
the film takes a look at pivotal moments for the print in art history.
From Dürer's mastery of woodcuts to the spread of engravings in the
17th and 18th centuries, down to Robert Rauschenberg
learning to separate newsprint from newspaper using lighter fluid, we
see the development of techniques that meet the evolution of subject
matter that artists have addressed through their art.
Interview subjects include
artists such as Kiki Smith and Will Barnet, curators past and present
from the Whitney and the Museum of Modern Art, collectors, and gallerists.
The influence of Depression-era artists from Mexico and the United States
is discussed in detail, as this was an important moment during which
government work galvanized print-makers and allowed for the fast production
and dissemination of their art.
Over a relatively short 54-minute
running time, All About Prints effectively hits the high points
of printmaking, covering about 500 years of art history without skipping
over the details and nuances that make prints themselves interesting
in the first place.
The Video and Audio
Microcinema presents the feature in an enhanced 1.78:1 transfer
that really shines. Shot and edited with economy and skill, the
image is rock-solid, which is no surprise for an hour-long feature that
has a single disc all to itself. Contrast is excellent and blacks
are solid. The audio is crystal clear stereo, abetted by a pleasant
original music score.
There are no bonus features.
This program will give viewers a new appreciation for such heretofore
mysterious terms such as "mezzotint" and "drypoint."
All About Prints efficiently examines the interesting and somewhat
unsung art of printmaking. The variety of processes and effects
available to the dedicated printmaker are surprisingly vast.
Casey Burchby lives in Northern California: Twitter, Tumblr.