History of Printmaking

"Philosophia" Woodblock Print by Albrect Durer

Our last post talked about what a monoprint is, and this one will cover why they matter. Printmaking has always appealed to artists as a method of mass communication. Making multiple copies allows more people to view the artwork. The development of the printing process 600 years ago in Europe allowed artists and authors to create multiple identical copies of their work. Prints were inexpensive enough to produce that for the first time, people at all levels of society could have art in their homes.

Artists continued to experiment with printing techniques through the centuries. New techniques such as monoprinting and lithography were invented in the 1600s and 1700s, expanding the possibilities for printmakers. Today, digital printing methods are adding new dimensions to the art of printmaking.

In the 20th century artists have used images in prints to draw attention to social and political messages. The Chicano Movement made extensive use of art as a political medium. Printmaking was the “social media” Chicano artists used to get the word out. Native American artists have also used printmaking for cultural awareness and to draw attention to the realities of inequality and discrimination.