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Stanley Jones, Paul and Diana Hogarth

Paul Hogarth's Lithographic Work at The Curwen Studio

AN APPRECIATION BY STANLEY JONES

Paul Hogarth was an experienced graphic artist when he appeared at The Curwen Studio in 1975 to make a limited edition lithograph for Christie's Contemporary Art Gallery.

The lithographic technique was developed at the close of the 18th century by Alois Senefelder, a Bavarian playwright, who was searching for a cheaper method of printing his works for publication. It was revolutionary in that it was planographic as opposed to the intaglio methods used at the time and depended on the antipathy of grease and water as the principal for production. The artist draws with oily ink, or crayon, on a slab of limestone. The stone is wetted and printers' ink rolled over it. This ink sticks to the greasy parts of the stone, where the artist has drawn, and runs off the wet parts. Blocks of Bavarian limestone were found to be ideal for this purpose. Later, in the 19th century, zinc and aluminium plates supplanted the use of stone by printers and are still used for this purpose by artists working in the Curwen Studio.

Paul Hogarth drew his first prints at The Curwen Studio (when in Tottenham Court Road) onto grained zinc plates, but later he adapted the studio method of drawing on transfer film. This enabled him to work in his own studio drawing and painting each colour separation required for the finished work. He would then bring them into the workshop and discuss any alterations, either to the colour or to the drawing before the printing plates were made from each of his hand drawn separations. It was characteristic of Paul not to over print one colour on top of another but to allow each colour its significance in the work. This has given his lithographic prints freshness derived from an economic use of colour. Paul also liked to use the white paper as an element in the design of each print. He varied the practice according to the composition of each image.

Paul always wanted to be present at proof-making when the printing plates were assembled and the image printed on a piece of archival paper for the first time. In lithography the contribution of the artist is most important in guiding the printmakers through changes of colour, the order of printing the colours and any corrections to the plates. This can be done either during proofing or when the edition is being printed.

Unlike a photographic reproduction, the input of the artist helps to give the lithograph a fresh and unique quality, benefiting from the changes made during the course of printing. A photographic reproduction begins with a single colour transparency that is then translated into the normal four-colour process, used in commercial printing. For obvious reasons the artist cannot participate in this method and the results are very different, being an approximation of the information captured in the colour transparency.

Paul liked to produce limited edition prints because they gave him the opportunity to appeal to a wider public, beyond those who knew his watercolours and book illustrations. The edition sizes were on average between 100 and 200 copies, according to the distributor.

Paul's ideas and their realisation in original lithographic form have a special place in the annals of The Curwen Studio with whom he worked for many years.

Stanley Jones

The Curwen Studio

Photographs on this page courtesy of Julia Hedgecoe
Stanley Jones, Paul and Diana Hogarth, by Julia Hedgecoe Stanley Jones, Paul and Diana Hogarth, by Julia Hedgecoe Stanley Jones, Paul and Diana Hogarth, by Julia Hedgecoe