Exploring Lithography

August 25, 2018 - February 10, 2019
Horgan and Graphics Gallery

Lithography is among the most versatile printmaking methods available today. Invented in 1796 by German playwright Alois Senefelder, lithography operates on the opposition of oil and water. To make a lithograph, an artist draws onto a stone with an oily, ink-receptive crayon or other substance. The stone is then inked, rinsed, and pressed onto a piece of paper. Compared to the limited shelf life of etching plates or woodblocks, which can begin to wear down after a few dozen impressions, lithography can produce hundreds of images inexpensively, making it one of the most ubiquitous printing techniques of the Industrial Revolution. Initially regarded as a commercial printing medium rather than an artistic one, by the late nineteenth century artists such as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec had begun exploring its unique aesthetic qualities to create vibrant, colorful posters and prints that embody the gestural energy of drawing. The exploration of lithography’s artistic potential has continued through the twentieth century through print workshops such as Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque.

Drawn from the permanent collection, this exhibition will introduce visitors to the history and process of lithography. Viewers will have the opportunity to learn about how a lithograph is made while exploring a diverse selection of examples from the Museum’s print collection. Spanning New Mexico and beyond, this exhibition will highlight both the versatility of lithography and the diversity of the permanent collection.

Gilot, Spring Water, 1977, color lithograph on paper web
Francoise Gilot, Spring Water, 1977, color lithograph on paper, 17 x 15 in. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald D. Martin, 1979.077.0020.