What Is a Monotype?

What Is a Monotype?

As visitors continue to enjoy our current exhibition Robert Motherwell Monotypes (through May 4), we thought we would take a moment to talk about monotypes. We have been asked many questions about the technique used in this process, especially because this body of work by Motherwell is so rarely seen. In fact, the 13 monotypes on view are straight from the Motherwell Estate and are being exhibited for the first time here in our gallery. This is a medium many artists who typically draw or paint like to experiment with.  Monotype printing is perfect for those who are interested in the intersection of technical craftsmanship (required for printmaking), and creative expression (through drawing and painting).

A monotype is a print made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface such as glass, metal or Plexiglas. The image is then transferred onto a sheet of paper by pressing the two together, usually using a printing-press. This process results in a printed mirror image of what the artist painted on the plate. As most of the ink is removed during the initial pressing, the monotype is a completely unique work of art. This simple process allows for experimentation and variation.

In Robert Motherwell’s art practice, printmaking became inextricably entwined with his efforts in painting, drawing and collage. He recalled late in life that what had begun as a diversion gradually became a central activity within his work. The immediacy of monotype printing was especially appealing to an artist so focused on automatism and injecting the subconscious into physical works of art.

To see all of Motherwell's monotypes in our exhibition, click here. The images below are examples of monotypes by other artists in our inventory.

PRESERVATIONHALL-SAI...

Romare Bearden (1911-1988)
PRESERVATION HALL-SAINTS COME MARCHING IN  
Monotype  
29 1/2 x 41 1/2 inches

TALL,SLENDERTREEROW1...

Wolf Kahn
TALL, SLENDER TREE ROW   1999
Monoprint  
13 3/4 x 17 inches (image)
22 1/4 x 30 inches (paper)

MYPOND20137x9JMG1682...

Thomas McNickle
MY POND   2013
Monoprint  
7 x 9 inches

Header Image

Robert Motherwell (1915-1991)
UNTITLED 1974   1974
Monotype; Black Acrylic on Arches Paper  
41 x 29 1/2 inches
M74-3764

 

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