Screen printing as a specific medium gained wider attention after it was embraced by the proponents of Pop Art, especially Andy Warhol. However, this printing technique has the history of its own – it appeared in China centuries ago before it was introduced to Western Europe around the late 18th century. Screen printing was not very popular until the import of silk from Asia become customized. There were significant attempts of experimentation during the first decade of the 20th century, and the developments proposed by the American trio of scientists (Roy Beck, Charles Peter, and Edward Owens) entirely changed the perception of this media and influenced the commercial screen printing industry. The process is called screen printing or silkscreen printing because of the use of silk in the process. The other denominator used for describing it is serigraphy or serigraph printing.
The gallery which devotedly exhibits and collects prints is ArtWise, an established facility with over twenty years of experience specialized in Post-War and Contemporary art.
To honor the championing use of this media, we selected eight outstanding silkscreens produced by some of the leading 20th-century artists courtesy of ArtWise which you can add to your collection as you read this text.
The first artwork on our list was made by no other then one of the most iconic Pop artists Roy Lichtenstein. The renowned figure is best known for his vibrant paintings based on cartoon and comic imagery. Lichtenstein’s approach was saturated with humor and subversive approach of constructing his signature style from mass-reproduced images. Throughout his lasting career, Lichtenstein worked with various media spanning from painting, sculpture and murals, to prints and ceramics.
This particular silkscreen, as the title suggests, refers to the the artist’s first solo exhibition the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
This screen print made by the most celebrated American artist, and the mage of Abstract Expressionism – Jackson Pollock. This notable figure inaugurated a completely different approach to abstraction by proposing drip painting – a performative technique of literally dripping the paint on canvases positioned on a floor. In brief, his entire oeuvre is based on the self-reflection and cultural heritage of Native Americans.
The print Convergence is the most exemplary of Pollock's drip painting and was printed in 1991.
One of the pioneering artists to use appropriation techniques, Richard Pettibone is affiliated with the Pop Art movement, although his practice moved more towards the neo-avant-garde and later Conceptual art. Pettibone is perhaps best known for producing replicas of famous avant-garde artworks made by artists whose practice were often focused on themes of replication.
This print as the title suggests is a constellation of artworks by Warhol, Stella, and Lichtenstein and could be perceived as Pettibone’s ironic commentary on their fame.
Next up is the work of the most celebrated artist of the 20th century, the Prince of Pop, Andy Warhol who was acclaimed as a pioneering figure for many things including screen print. The legacy of this prolific artist is humongous since his practice was two-fold – on one hand, he was producing profitable artworks, while on the other he experimented much with motion pictures in unprecedented fashion regardless of any tendencies of the time.
This particular print was made by Warhol in 1971 and alongside his car-crash works, it represents his ongoing fascination with death.
Tom Wesselmann is yet another Pop art master on this top list best known for his vibrant works often representing cropped women red lips without or with a cigarette, lipsticks, and close-ups of various other objects. By focusing on the commodities of the American affluence, Wesselmann explored the domains of mass media and consumerism.
This particular print made for the New York Film Festival held at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1985 shows Wesselmann in another light, in his mature phase which was far more subtle and calmer unlike his metal sculptures from the same period.
This particular print was made by one of the greatest Modernist masters Henri Matisse. Aside from being the founding father of Fauvism and a prolific experimentator working with several media, Matisse championed Cut-outs during the WW II, although he was already using them around 1920s; his entire radical activity much influenced various interwar and postwar artists while manifesting to entirety the famous modernist credo art equals life and life equals art.
The Fall of Icarus is a beautiful silkscreen print produced in 1995.
An American painter and one of the founders and leading proponents of Abstract Expressionism was Robert Motherwell. He pioneered the use of accidental elements in his practice along with various filtered references coming from philosophy, literature and the European modernism. Motherwell’s dense, gestural paintings, prints, and collages reflect the artist's connection with art history, philosophy, and contemporary art, as well as autobiographical content.
Mostly Mozart Festival is a screen print designed and produced by Robert Motherwell for the Mostly Mozart Festival presented at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City in 1991.
The last artwork on our list was made by yet another Modernist master Marc Chagall best known for a poetic style somewhere on the edge of abstraction and figuration. Chagall was apparently fascinated by Fauvism and Cubism, however, his entire oeuvre was marked by the personal Jewish history and tradition.
Artist and Love was printed in 1979 and it shows Chagall’s more simple and graphic approach.
Brooklyn, New York, United States of America