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Monotypes

Monotypes from the exhibition "Le Voyage d'Italie" of Marie Lavie, with a presentation text of Jean Clair, writer, art critic and former director of the Picasso Museum.

The exhibition 'Le voyage d'Italie'Le voyage d'Italie

When I say Venice, I suddenly can see an explosion of colors, fireworks, I can see works of Turner, Renoir, Monet, Signac, I can see a busy and glamorous city, a carnival city which is like a crusty and glazed bun, cooked by a never-ending midday sun.

However a more secret, distant, silent, with a twilight aspect Venice exists but it is difficult to catch it. This is the one of Music and his pen-and-ink drawings, this is the one of Whistler and his engravings. And this is in this second lineage that Marie Lavie’s Venice stands.

A shadowy and foggy Venice, a Venice where the rain is persistent and the passerby furtive. This is the Venice of Henry James’ "The Aspern Papers". This is the industrial city and not the city of pleasures – this is the city of the Stucky mills and of the Giudecca cranes, the city of the narrow calli where faces are concealed behind wire netting windows, the city of the little humping bridges.

This Venice is also the Venice where lies the Zattere quay which runs alongside a canal as large as a widely drawn arm of sea, whereas the Great Canal is narrow and winding. In its western line, sliding under the Porto Marghera metal bridge, gradually following its curve, the sun sinks into the black oil refinery smokes.

A black city, black waters, black skies: underneath nevertheless, the water constantly moves to make the slightest sparkle last, and above, the sky brightens up.

This is the city of permanency and precariousness. The Accademia Bridge, destroyed during the war, had been rebuilt with wood in this temporary which lasts and deteriorates itself slowly but constantly. Marie José preferred to fix the image of the Redeemer bridge which, once a year and for one day only, whereas it is solid like a military engineered work, links the two banks, in memory of the healing of the plague every third Sundays of July.

To fix that black and short-lived universe of transitivity, she needed a very special medium, which, just as the wooden bridge, is only crossed once and is not used anymore. She needed a medium that can underline the scale of blacks and the changes of the scumbles: and so, the monotype, so rare and so precious, was found. It is, to the smokes, the soots, the coals, the dark veils which lay down on the city skin, what the pastel – another medium favoured by Marie José – is to the colours. It is transitory and pulverulent, it triumphs with its very own lightness and vulnerability.

Jean Clair

Click a picture to see a larger view.


N°1
Zattere
monotype, 41x21, 2005
Zattere, Venice
 
N°2
Giudecca cranes
monotype, 45x16, 2005
Giudecca cranes, Venice
 
N°3
Porto Marghera
monotype, 45x16, 2005
Porto Marghera, Venice
 
N°4
From Redentore / Redeemer bridge
monotype, 45x16, 2005
From Redeemer bridge, Venice
 
N°5
Salute
monotype, 45x16, 2005
Salute, Venice
 
N°6
Giudecca
monotype, 41x21, 2005
Giudecca, Venice
 
N°7
Sant'Eufemia
monotype, 45x16, 2005
Sant'Eufemia, Venice
 
N°8
Marghera Wind
monotype, 45x16, 2005
Marghera Wind, Venice
 
N°9
San Giorgio Maggiore
monotype, 45x16, 2005
San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
 
N°10
Grand angle
monotype, 45x16, 2005
Grand angle, Venice
 
N°11
Bleue Alba
monotype, 45x16, 2005
Alba bleue, Venice
 
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The monotype
[français]

The monotype is a printing process with similarities of both engraving and pain- ting; it is in fact a process of paint printing.

One paints directly on a metal or glass plate, using a brush and oil-base paints or inks.  One can also sweep the paint, or ink, away from a coat covering the total surface of the plate. This is called the black manner.  Then without waiting for the paint, or the inks, to dry, one prints as with an ordinary encree engraving, either with the hand by rubbing the back of paper or with the press which gives a more subtle result.

One generally employs a standard vellum slightly absorbent paper.

This process is the work of a painter; it makes it possible to paint directly with the brush, with a great number of colors.

The word monotype dates back to the XIXth century, but the inventor of the process was Benedetto Castiglione (1616-1670), an inventive and adaptable Genovese engraver; one can not explain, indeed, differently his "engravings", of which one can deduce that he covered his copper with black ink and swept it away, with a stick, a brush or a rag, creating the white of a negative drawing.

The monotype had a rather large vogue at the time of impressionism; Pissaro, Forain, Whistler, Lautrec, Gauguin were tested there but it is Degas which was the Master of the process, in black and white as well as in color.

The monotype is precious because it is rare.

(According to: Andre Béguin, Dictionary of the print, Brussels, 1977)

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[see also Pastels]

 
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