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December 10, 2001

What is a Serigraph?

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Do you know what makes a serigraph so special? Find out in this article.

Silk-screen printing is a print making technique in which ink or paint is forced through an extremely fine textured piece of fabric and is etched onto paper or another material. When the process is used in fine arts it is called serigraphy. The resulting print is a serigraph.

The serigraphic process offers techniques that are unachievable in other printing methods. It is capable of printing heavy layers of ink and producing a surface of texture. Large areas of flat color are best printed with screen printing.

Serigraphs are best known for thier rich and vibrant color. These and other factors have been responsible for screen printing
developing the reputation as a painter’s media.

The first step in this time consuming procedure, which frequently takes up to three months to complete, begins with a professional called a “chromist” who specializes in working with color. The chromist analyzes the painting provided by the artist and works closely with the artist.

Hours are spent carefully dissecting the painting into individual colors, relying solely upon experience to decide which colors, in what order, by which process, and by what drawing technique.

The Chromist begins the first of dozens of drawings, each representing a different color that will be layered , one on top of the other over the next several weeks, one layer for each individual color in the painting.

The chromist works with the master printer to mix exacting colors that are printed one at a time until the artist gives his final nod of approval.

The artist frequently inspects the work in progress and makes suggestions and corrections. When the edition is complete and has passed its final inspection from the curation department, the artist signs and numbers each piece.

Serigraphs are produced in an edition, limited in number as indicated in pencil below the image. The notation 1/100 means that a particular print is the first of 100 in the edition. By signing and numbering it, the artist is guaranteeing that there will never be more than xxx number of original serigraph prints of this design.

Generally, the lower the first number and the smaller the total number of the edition, the more valuable is the serigraph. Serigraphs are usually printed in much smaller editions than many limited edition art prints and are of much higher quality than prints produced by other methods.

The use of silkscreen as a modern artist medium began in 1938 when a group of New York artists, under the auspices of the Federal Art Project, experimented with silkscreening.

This group coined the term “serigraphy” and later formed the nucleus of the National Serigraph Society, which actively promoted this graphic form for twenty years.

Among those active in the development of serigraphy were Anthony Velonis, who inspired the original project, and Carl Zigrossa, an art critic, who named the group.

In the 1960s, Pop Art took serigraphy to a new level of sophistication. Innovators such as Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, Robert Raushenburg, and others, began experimenting in color and textures unavailable in other mediums.

Serigraphy printmaking ranks with painting, sculpture, and drawing as an important medium by which artists express themselves.

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