Frank Stella

Swan Engraving VIII

1982
etching on paper
52 x 54 inches
signed, dated, and numbered in pencil lower margin. Artist’s Proof VI. Published by Tyler graphics.

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Provenance: Jody Collins estate

An abstract engraving by the artist that features both relief and intaglio printing. The work is one of the 15 Swan Engravings Stella created with master printer Ken Tyler. The title of the series refers to the Swan Engraving Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut, a commercial printing company that cuts and engraves the shapes Stella uses in his large magnesium constructions.

Made by mounting leftover metal plates on a plywood backing, and printed in one run, some areas in relief, others in intaglio, with spontaneous orchestration of areas and intense compression of forms. Each of the pieces assembled for one of the Swan Engravings, whether relief or intaglio, had to be wiped separately, and to a very particular degree. According to one account “Half a day of shop time was entailed in the inking of of a single Swan plate. After each impression was pulled, the plate was then cleared of ink and prepared once again.” They also required custom made paper, since ordinary paper would not be sensitive enough to pick up the ink.

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