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Artwork of the Month - May 2006


Rockpool, 1991

Artist: Maria Burgess Whinney (1914 - 1995)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Status: Permanent collection
Item No.: GMAG 1991.406

The Influence of 20th Century Printmaking on Painting

At the beginning of the 20th Century a number of contemporary artists such as Picasso, followed by artists such as Marc Chagall and Joan Miró, became interested in exploring the medium of printmaking. In Britain, the increasing interest in printmaking developed even further in the 1930's with artists such as Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore, John Piper and Anthony Gross. This resurgence led to a new found respect for printmaking as an artistic medium, and in-fact had a great effect on methods of painting.

If we look at Maria Whinney's painting of a 'Rockpool' with its convincing depiction of the rockpool's watery depths, we can see that the artist has taken great delight in describing the linear shapes of the seaweed and ripples in the water. She has also created depth by layering not only shapes and lines but also textures and varying translucencies. This approach to painting is typical of many artists of the mid-20th Century who also used printing techniques as well as painting. John Piper is a good example of an artist whose painting has been influenced by the process of, and the effects achieved by, printmaking.

Maria Whinney was an accomplished engraver and this skill has influenced and strengthened her painting. She is at ease with strong designs, and produces a composition which is both illustrative and expressive.

Printing was first used to reproduce great works of art, now we can see how printmaking has influenced painting itself.