Many classical artists made use of the monotype technique. From Pierre Bonnard, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin, Paul Klee, Marc Chagall, Joan Miro, Jean Dubuffet, Henri Matisse to Pablo Picasso … the list goes on and on. It would appear, for example, that Paul Gauguin may have been the first to develop the ‘trace monotype’ technique﮽.
An explanatory note about the Gauguin trace monotype above from Bridgeman Education:
Autograph manuscript for Gauguin’s last literary work, Avant et après, Atuana, Marquesas Islands, January- February 1903. Handwritten hardcover notebook. Avant et après is the last major manuscript by Paul Gauguin. Part-memoir and part-manifesto, the 213-page manuscript reveals important insights into Gauguin’s life, relationships and thoughts, and includes numerous drawings and prints by the artist. It was written in 1903, the year of the artist’s death, at his home on the Marquesas island of Hiva Ova, French Polynesia. In addition to anecdotes about his friendships and opinions on the work of Degas, Pissarro, Signac and Cézanne, a key section in the manuscript reflects on the period that Gauguin stayed with Vincent van Gogh in Arles. Gauguin describes the incident in which Van Gogh severed his own ear after a violent quarrel with his fellow artist, a passage that was long regarded as the primary source of information about that fateful and infamous event. 17 x22 cm (monotype -oriented horizontally on the album page) 29x 20.7 cm (album page – approx.) Accepted in lieu of Estate Duty by HM Government and allocated to The Courtauld, 2020
I have scoured the internet to find representational examples of monotypes specifically dealing with portraiture and more especially, how artists have used the monotype as a base for a more detailed work. Edgar Degas’ monotypes were worked on with pencil and soft pastels, which is a medium that I enjoy working with and is a major inspiration for some of the work I’ve done for assignment 3.
I have a very small working space, so felt quite constricted working on A2 sized pieces of paper. However, I took inspiration from Maurice Prendergast, who also had a very tiny studio with no space for a printing press. This didn’t stop him – he laid his plates down on the floor and rubbed the surface of the paper with a spoon to create his prints².
As far as contemporary artists are concerned, an artist I was introduced to in POP1 and who I absolutely adore – Luc Tuymans – creates numerous monotypes, I am still greatly influenced by his minimalist approach.
I also love the delicate portraits of celebrities done by Annie Kevans, which are featured in the coursework examples. . I have mentioned in previous research the work of Mark Francis Williams and others. Here are a few more examples of works that I find inspirational:
Michael Mazur’s work is exceptionally powerful and I love how he has used pastels over a lithoprint, as well as added collage elements to create his self-portrait above. Paul Gauguin’s ‘Seated Tahitian nude ..’ also seems to be a trace monotype, although I don’t see it listed in that way by Bridgeman Education. Matisse’s example above is simple sublime magic.
Unless otherwise stated, all images were sourced via Bridgeman Education.
﮽ And ² www.monoprints.com‘History anddevelopment of monoprints’ (accessed 02/05/2021)
MoMA website page link to Edgar Degas exhibition: https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/1613 (accessed 02/05/2021)
Article from ARTNews – ‘MoMA’s Edgar Degas: A strange new beauty’ exhibition. https://www.artnews.com/art-news/reviews/intimate-impressions-momas-edgar-degas-a-strange-new-beauty-is-a-sumptuous-feast-for-the-eyes-6077/ (accessed 02/05/2021)
Luc Tuymans – www.luctuymans.com
(Source of ‘Sunset’ image). Note: not surprisingly, due to stringent image protection put in place by Luc Tuymans (and the galleries he is represented by), it is virtually impossible to find good quality online reproductions of his work. But I have seen many examples of his monotypes online and also in printed publications.