An Economy of Means
Beginning 19 March, the Alan Cristea Gallery will be holding an exhibition of graphic works by Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. Covering a forty-year period and consisting of over fifty prints, An Economy of Means will explore the deceptive simplicity of line in the graphic work of both Matisse and Picasso. It will pay tribute to their ability to convey a vast range of effects and emotions from their use of incised line on an etching plate, a gouged line on a linoleum block, a drawn line on a lithographic plate or stone, or a brushed line in aquatint.
Both artists embraced the various printing media wholeheartedly and at times obsessively.
In Matisse's case, printmaking came in sporadic bursts throughout his career. At different times in his life he became completely absorbed by one method or another. In 1929 he made 108 etchings. All these etchings were of women; resting, sleeping, musing, reading, staring into goldfish bowls. By the 1940s he was making aquatints, using rich black against pure white to create direct, simple and compelling images.
Picasso was more compulsive. From his very first prints at the beginning of the last century, he regarded the various printmaking supports - the etching plate, the lithographic stone, the lino block - as challenges to overcome and to exploit to his own ends. Indeed, his printmaking activities became ever more intense throughout his life, culminating in huge series of etchings and aquatints, an example of which is the series of 347 engravings made between 16 March and 5 October 1968 whilst living in Mougins in the south of France.