A Half-Century of Excellence

When Kathan Brown first opened Crown Point Press (CPP) in 1962, lithography and screenprinting were the prevailing fine art printmaking workshop processes. With the establishment of CPP, Brown provided artists with alternatives to these methods, affirming her commitment to intaglio—any process in which incisions in a plate’s surface hold the ink that will create the image. These new printmaking possibilities evolved into increasingly diverse offerings that afforded artists new outlets for their creativity, the fruits of which are currently on display in Crown Point Press at 50 (through February 17, 2013) at the de Young.

Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith (American, b. 1954). Still, 2006. Color spit-bite aquatint with flat-bite and soft-ground and hard-ground etching printed on gampi paper chine collé. Crown Point Press Archive, gift of Crown Point Press. 2010.39.17.2

Over the last five decades, some of the world’s most prominent artists have passed through the doors of CPP, producing extraordinary artwork in print. Through the years, the CPP printers have been masterful technicians, providing these artists with an ever-growing arsenal of tools and techniques. First with photoetching and then, beginning in the 1990s, with the revival of photogravure, CPP developed exciting ways of realizing photography projects in print.

Ed Ruscha

Edward Ruscha (American, b. 1937). Desert Gravure, 2006. Photogravure. Crown Point Press Archive, Gift of Crown Point Press. 2006.94.2

Aquatint, another trademark process of the press, permits artists to render their compositions in printed tonal fields, in both rich color and deep shades of black.

Chris Ofili

Chris Ofili (British, b. 1968). Rainbow—Red Cave, 2008. Spit-bite aquatint with flat-bite etching and drypoint printed in red. Crown Point Press Archive, gift of Crown Point Press. 2010.39.13.10

For the past 20 years, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have housed the CPP archive, consisting of one impression of each print published by the press since its beginning a half-century ago. This archive now contains more than 1,500 published prints as well as numerous working proofs that further illuminate each artist’s process, as was recently articulated in the special exhibition Chuck Close and Crown Point Press: Prints and Processes.

The impact of Crown Point Press on the artists who have passed through its doors is visible in the extraordinary breadth of artwork on display in this exhibition.

“I approach prints in the way I approach drawings, which is to allow a structure to emerge from playing with mark making. Engraved lines have a very different quality from etched lines, or from any other kinds of lines. I like learning new ways of making marks and through them intuitively letting the work take shape.”—Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu (American, b. 1970). Diffraction, 2005. Color sugar lift-ground with aquatint, spit-bite aquatint and hard-ground etching on Gampi paper chine collé. Crown Point Press Archive, Gift of Crown Point Press. 2006.44.9.2

“There’s nothing really that I’ve ever found in other lines that is like an etched line—its fidelity, the richness of it, the density. You just don’t get that any other way.”—Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud (American, b. 1920). Tide Figures, 2006. Color drypoint with hard-ground etching printed on Gampi paper chine collé. Crown Point Press Archive, gift of Crown Point Press. 2010.39.19.7

“There’s a different energy breathing through the [photogravure] images than you get in ordinary photographic printing. These have a different depth to them. They feel more sculptural, more like objects.”—Darren Almond

Darren Almond

Darren Almond (British, b. 1971). Untitled from the portfolio Civil Dawn, 2010. Photogravure on Gampi paper chine collé. Crown Point Press Archive, gift of Crown Point Press. 2010.

Join Crown Point Press founder Kathan Brown for a special lecture celebrating the press’s 50th anniversary this Friday, October 26, at 7 pm in the Koret Auditorium.

Crown Point Press at 50 is on display through February 17, 2013 at the de Young.