On September 22, 23 and 24, the IV International Festival of Mezzo Tinto, a rare engraving technique, has been working in the Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts in recent days, in which 99 artists from 33 countries and seven hundred of their works take part. The artists will present some of the engravings to the museum - for example, Moroccan Hashmi Azza, representing Belgium, will do so. In the Yekaterinburg collection will remain 130 works of the artist.
Together with a researcher at the Museum of Fine Arts, Ekaterina Korneeva, Life around figured out why the "black style" is not an art for the elite, but a technique familiar to everyone since childhood, and what is useful to know before going to the exhibition.Gustave Dore Illustration for Rabelais novel "Gargantua and Pantagruel" Wilhelm von Kaulbach. Illustration for Goethe's poem "Reinecke Fox"
Mezzo Tinto is one of the varieties of copper engraving. This technique is also historically called the "black manner", or maneranegra. Little is known about technology both in Russia and abroad, even in the families of artists. "When I show my close friends and family my work or talk about the mezzo-tinto technique, and even just about the engraving, it turns out that they did not even hear about it," said Jason Reith from France, a participant in the mezzo-tinto open competition.
Why engravings are familiar to everyone
Meanwhile, black and white pictures have been familiar to most of us since childhood from the books of Charles Perrault's fairy tales - the great Gustave Dore created monochrome illustrations for them. In addition, he illustrated adapted children's versions of Don Quixote by Cervantes and Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais. Goethe was unable to tear himself away from the Reinecke-lis publication, among other things, due to images of Wilhelm von Kaulbach.
Why did mezzo tinto appear?
Before the advent of printing technology, it was engraving — or print graphics, prints — that helped create reproductions and replicate canvases of artists, monumental paintings and drawings, making works of art accessible to a wide audience.
The first engraving in mezzo-tinto technique in 1642 was created by the Dutchman Ludwig van Siegen. Following him, engravers of continental Europe, the British (thanks to the success of which the mezzo-tinto was called the "English manner"), and even the masters in Russia, mastered new technology. For example, the picturesque portraits of the heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812 from the famous Military Gallery of the Winter Palace, performed by the Englishman George Dow, were replicated for the Russian patriots by the artist's brother Henry - and he did it using the mezzo-tinto technique.
For 350 years, the art of black and white engraving has gone from the way of copying other people's originals to the author’s technique, which serves solely to embody the artist’s intentions.
How artists work in a "black manner"
Until now, all the processes of creating mezzo-tinto are carried out manually: first, the artist engraves the image on a copper plate, and then imprints the paper with the resulting matrix. This is a complex, time-consuming and resource-intensive process. Only the so-called pumping of a copper board takes days, weeks, or even months of labor - depending on the size of the copper plate.
After that, the artist transfers the sketch in mirror image to the rough surface of copper and, using a scraper and a smoothing iron, starts polishing those places that should give light shades when printing - from black to pearl gray and even white.
Usually, in mezzo-tinto, the author has 20, 30, 40 copies of the work. Compared to other types of printed graphics, where prints can be in the hundreds or even thousands, this is a very small, truly limited edition. Each printed sheet has a so-called signature: the artist signs the serial number of the print with a pencil, and through the slash, the total size of the print run.
How to manage the circulation, the author decides. He can sell his works in person or through galleries, exchange prints with other artists, present his works at exhibitions or competitions in print graphics (there are many such shows in the world, and the great advantage of print graphics is that the author can be present at the same time with his works in several places.
Collectors like prints, prints and mezzo-tinto in particular. Firstly, the cost of circulation graphics is quite democratic, and secondly, the investments are unconditionally justified by the fact that each print is not a copy, but an original. Of particular interest is the one who still has the impressions of the author: perhaps this is a successful gallery or state museum.Henry Dow "Portrait of I.V. Vasilchikov" from the original by George Dow