Monotypes are unique, one-of-a-kind works of art, as are the prints made from them. The art form is known as painterly print or printer's painting. The process involves painting artwork in ink on a metal or plexiglass plate and then imprinting, or pulling, the plate onto high-quality paper to create the print. Because only one or two impressions can be made before the ink is drawn from the plate, each monotype print will be a singular piece of art. In addition, artists use additive or reductive techniques to manipulate the ink - thinning, thickening, or re-layering some of the ink, or scratching, daubing, wiping, or blocking it - for a variety of printing effects.
Rembrandt was one of the first prominent artists to use monotyping to refine his works before painting them on a broader canvas. Poet William Blake also engaged in monotype printmaking in the 1790s, and renowned artists from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Degas, Gaugin, Chagall, and Matisse, experimented extensively with the art form. Collectible monotype prints come on their heels, from a cadre of artists specializing in the genre from the 1940s onward, including Michael Mazur, Sam Francis, Tracy Emin, Jim Dine, Lew Altman, and Helen Frankenthaler. Among the highly prized limited edition monotype prints are those by Joan Lewis, whose works focused on the anatomy of the human body, and who sought to portray human emotions, psychology, and spirituality with monotype texturing and color. One of her contemporaries, Brian Liddle, is also well known for his work in the genre, with his vibrant, forceful monotype print posters for the London Transport and Imperial War Museum.
Collectible books of monotype prints also come from original-edition re-issues of the works of renowned artists in the genre, including a 1938 release of monotypes by Degas from 1880, reproduced as etchings by Maurice Potin. Other collectibles include monotypes of the typographic creations of Stanley Morison, the father of modern typography and creator of the Times-Roman font.
Which monotype artist most captures your imagination?