On Our Anniversary

by Susan Tallman

May 2013

“Without prints you don’t understand the culture of the world.”

Two years ago we launched Art in Print with that observation, stolen from the late art historian Leo Steinberg. Steinberg made the comment in reference to a print from his own vast collection—a Descent from the Cross, derived from Marcantonio Raimondi’s engraving after Raphael, but executed in the imperial Mughal style sometime after Jesuit missionaries arrived in India with European engravings in tow. It is a document of what happens when one set of visual rules collides with another set of preferences. It makes visible the intercultural aspirations, appropriations and misinterpretations through which the world is transformed. Steinberg’s statement expressed with simple clarity our reasons for founding Art in Print: we wanted to build a venue for examining the multitude of ways in which prints transform culture and are transformed by it.

Over the past 24 months Art in Print has published twelve issues occupying 650 pages, dozens of articles, hundreds of reviews and thousands of announcements for new editions, exhibitions and books. We expanded from a PDF publication to a printed-and-bound magazine, introduced a weekly newsletter and in June will begin hosting Sarah Kirk Hanley’s blog, INK. Tens of thousands of visitors have gone to the Art in Print website and read about prints whose origins span 514 years and 86 degrees of latitude.

This heterogenous profusion of print is clearly seen in the current issue, as is the road map of connections, legacies and adaptations that Steinberg found so engaging: Mary McNaughton examines how the elite 11th century Japanese Tale of Genji was transformed into a mass-market pop cultural phenomenon by 19th century print artists. Britany Salsbury writes about Mary Cassatt, who found in those Japanese prints the tools to transform European art at turn of the 20th century. And Catherine Bindman shows how those Cassatt prints have become an indelible paradigm for 21st century artists article such as Kate McCrickard. Artist Paul Coldwell’s essay dissects the transcendent rigor of Giorgio Morandi’s etchings, while art historian Ben Thomas anatomizes Morandi’s influence on Coldwell’s own, decades-long investigation of reproduction and representation. Finally, the sometimes subtle, sometimes bald-faced, appropriation of printed matter as a creative principal links 18th century caricature (Camilla Murgia) and the current work of Bonnie Marin (discussed by Courtney R. Thompson) and Serena Perrone (reviewed by Sarah Andress).

Two years ago, we invited readers “to become involved, to contribute content, opinion, suggestions, information, and/or financial support.” The international print community responded with an enthusiasm we could not have anticipated, volunteering advice, labor, donations, fan mail and suggestions for improvement. We are enormously grateful.

As we enter our third year we face new challenges: there is more we want to cover, and the journal content and subscriber base have both expanded beyond the capacities of our current website. In the coming months we will be launching our first donation campaign, but money is only part of the story. We also depend on you, our readers, to let us know how we’re doing. What are we missing? What could we do better?

The culture of the world is waiting. Let’s go.