L: Wayne Thiebaud, Tide Figures, 2006. Color drypoint with hardground etching printed on gampi paper chine collé. Crown Point Press Archive, gift of Crown Point Press. Art © Wayne Thiebaud/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. R: Robert Bechtle, Three Houses on Pennsylvania Avenue, 2011. Color soft-ground etching with aquatint. Published by Crown Point Press, San Francisco. Collection of Crown Point Press
Crown Point Press at 50
Crown Point Press at 50 marks the press’s 50th anniversary and features prints by 15 internationally renowned artists made at the press over the course of five decades. Some, such as Robert Bechtle and Wayne Thiebaud, have returned to the press throughout their careers; others, including Darren Almond, Chris Ofili, and Kiki Smith, are more recent additions to the roster. All share an enthusiasm for expanding their artistic practice by making prints.
When Kathan Brown established Crown Point Press in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1962, she expressed a commitment to etching that was remarkable for the time. Most workshop-based print publishing ventures in the 1960s focused on lithography and screenprinting. Brown offered an alternative and welcomed artists who were new to intaglio, giving them an opportunity to explore an alternative printmaking possibility that was ideally suited to contemporary expression.
Witnessing the evolution of artistic movements such as Minimalism, Conceptualism, and Neo-figuration over the last 50 years, the press has applied a constant level of innovation to etching while working with visiting artists, regardless of style, to realize complex ideas. From the late 1960s, Brown and her staff of printers have developed ways in which photo projects could be realized, first as photoetchings, and then, beginning in the 1990s, in the revival of photogravure, a printing process that has been around for as long as photography itself. This process, along with that of color aquatint—which has become a trademark of the press—permits artists to swathe their compositions in printed tonal fields, merging ink and paper.