For well over a century, New York has been a microcosm of the art and craft of American printmaking. Until 1825, printmaking in America was almost entirely an artisan’s craft. Then, with the arrival of lithography, the realization arose that printmaking could also be a fine art.
The essays published in this collection contribute to the body of scholarship by identifying important but hitherto insufficiently studied aspects of the graphic arts and treating them authoritatively. Their subjects concern prints in New York State, whose great metropolitan city was, after 1825, the acknowledged center of nearly everything important in the graphic arts in the U.S.
The history of American prints from 1825 on is enormously rich, yet until the 1970s it was the least studied and understood aspect of the history of art in North America. It is a history more deeply rooted in popular culture and more closely tied, for a long time, to the world of commerce than the other arts. The usually small-scale, sometimes ephemeral, and often highly subtle (or highly unsubtle) nature of prints makes it easy to overlook them.
The collection of essays included here were originally presented at the Twelfth Annual North American Print Conference, held in 1981 in Syracuse, New York. Locally organized, these conferences have been held during the last decade throughout the U.S. and Canada to further the study of the history of the pictorial graphic arts in North America.
Contributors include several leading historians of the graphic arts of nineteenth-century America. Their chapters bring to life and flesh out figures who were previously little more than names, establish facts that correct long-held erroneous assumptions, introduce many prints of exceptional interest that have remained out of the public view for generations, and provide a rich, new context for many familiar images.
David Tatham is professor of fine arts at Syracuse University and the author of many articles, reviews, and exhibition catalogues concerning American art. His book The Lure of the Striped Pig is a study of the illustration of printed music.
8 x 8.5, 292 pages, 78 black and white illustrations