Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Editions: Don Ed Hardy

Don Ed Hardy - Turner, 2014
woodcut with acrylic. Image: 37 x 27 in. Paper: 44 x 30 in. Edition of 33

Don Ed Hardy's new editions Cosmo and Turner practically crackle and spill off the page with energy and movement. In both prints Hardy finds a harmonious balance between the deep blacks of a woodcut relief print and airy, painterly washes of acrylic color.

"The dragon and the tiger are traditionally the natural primary symbols of Heaven and Earth, yin and yang," Hardy says. The artist has a lifelong interest in such imagery: as a pre-teen in the early 1950s, he would savor souvenir artworks sent back by his father from Japan. In the early 1960s, Hardy's studies of Taoist and Buddhist texts became the cornerstone of a wide-ranging artistic practice that has since brought him international renown in the worlds of tattooing and fine art.

Turner, named for one of Hardy's heroes, the painter J.M.W. Turner, "is based on a thumbnail sketch I did of an ancient sculptural detail in India four years ago," he explained by email earlier this year. "I had never used a contrapposto pose in any of the hundreds of tigers I’ve done over the years in various mediums. The flaming pearl represents wisdom and truth in Buddhist tradition."

Don Ed Hardy - Cosmo, 2014
woodcut with acrylic. Image: 37 x 27 in. Paper: 44 x 30 in. Edition of 33

The dragon, Cosmo, is named "for a very exuberant puppy who we got recently; as I was completing the piece, I realized the image exuded the manic energy and excitement of the dog." While the dragon is painted in a more traditionally Japanese style, he writes, "the rocks surrounding the tiger are based on Korean folk art paintings and serve to balance the circular vortex energy in the waves around the dragon. Likewise, I wanted a different, 'calmer' color scheme around the tiger: flatter, quieter."

Hardy painted the designs for Cosmo and Turner using black sumi ink; his paintings were transferred to a wood block matrix by a combination of laser and hand cutting and printed in black relief ink on an etching press. Hardy's hand-painted acrylic washes were then scanned, registered, and printed in UV-cured acrylic ink under the artist's supervision. Cosmo and Turner were printed by Nicholas Price and Tallulah Terryll at Magnolia Editions in Oakland, California in an edition of 33.

While their symbolism runs deep, the immediate, appealing energy of these prints is more physical than cerebral: their intensity is easily felt, regardless of one's knowledge of Eastern traditions. Hardy's compositions seek the essence of heaven and earth, and as Shakespeare says in Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in our philosophy."

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Collaborating with Bruce Conner" at SJICA, Thursday Feb. 26

Bruce Conner - ANGEL WALL, CANYON DE CHELLEY, 2003/1976
Archival pigmented inkjet on Rives BFK white
17.75 x 23.5 in. Edition of 10

This Thursday evening in San Jose, Magnolia director Donald Farnsworth and Arion Press director Andrew Hoyem will participate in a public discussion of the brilliant and iconoclastic Bruce Conner, moderated by Conner Family Trust director Bob Conway.

The discussion, "Collaborating with Bruce Conner," will take place from 7 pm - 9 pm at the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art. Tickets are $5 for ICA members, $10 for Non-members and free for students.

Conner at Magnolia Editions in the early 2000s.

SJICA describes the concurrent show, "Bruce Conner: Somebody Else’s Prints" as follows:
A fixture in the San Francisco Beat-era art scene in the 1950s 
and 1960s, Conner was renowned for his groundbreaking work
 in assemblage, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and experimental film. The Wichita, Kansas native never worked with
 one medium for long, and infamously shifted personas, often attributing his artwork to celebrities, such as actor and friend Dennis Hopper, and fake personas alike.

Printmaking is one medium that spans Conner's entire career. "Bruce Conner: Somebody Else’s Prints" will feature around 100 works, from the first etchings and lithographs the artist made while still a young student in Kansas in 1944 to his last prints made at Magnolia Editions, Oakland, California, in 2003.

All of his important series of prints will be featured: the work with Tamarind Lithography Workshop in the mid-1960s; a selection from his disorienting series of maze-like lithographs; and all three volumes of “The Dennis Hopper One Man Show,” a series of etchings based on engraving collages.

In addition, the exhibition will feature rare ephemera from the archives of the Conner Family Trust. For example, photographic slides (strikingly similar to the black and white lithographs that he started making in the 1960s) that Conner used when he was part of a group that performed experimental light shows for bands like Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Grateful Dead.


For more information, please visit the SJICA website. We hope to see you there!

Conner in 1954.

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Open Letter to the Editor of The Art Newspaper

Chuck Close supervises weaving of a tapestry proof in Belgium; photo by Donald Farnsworth.

Dear Editor:

Daniel Grant's February 14 article about the sale of a "Warhol tapestry" misses its mark entirely in what amounts to an inaccurate representation of my studio and its publications.

The article's title "When can you buy a Warhol for under $10,000? When it's an artist's tapestry" refers to a 1968 edition produced after Warhol: a reproduction made "after" (i.e., in the style of) the artist and created without the artist's input. There is a vague correction at the bottom of the web version of the article, which ultimately does not draw a clear distinction between this so-called "Warhol tapestry" and an actual work by Andy Warhol. Meanwhile Mr. Grant uses his comments on the exhibition and sale of this "artwork" to segue into a discussion of the tapestries we publish, even placing a picture of myself, Chuck Close, and a Close tapestry below the "Warhol tapestry" headline.

It is misleading to conflate a mass-produced reproduction after Warhol with any tapestry published by Magnolia Editions, which has been translated via a rigorous proofing process supervised and directed by the artist. Even in the limited space of 700 words such a distinction is not only possible but essential. But to Mr. Grant, such distinctions of process and medium are mere ephemera; all that seems to matter is if the object is selling, how much the object sold for, and who bought it.

Unfortunately, even his reporting in the area of finance is not only misleading but damaging to the reputation of my business. While using a photograph of myself with an artist and work published by Magnolia Editions to boost his readership, Mr. Grant disingenuously introduces Magnolia in the context of a two-year-old quote from artist Alex Katz – a quote that appeared verbatim in Mr. Grant’s 2013 article on this same subject in The Observer – about not having been paid for any tapestry sales. A Katz tapestry sold in 2014, and the artist was indeed paid his portion of the $75,000 sale. For Mr. Grant not to have fact-checked this with us when he had the opportunity bespeaks an inattention to detail that is unacceptable.

Leon Golub - Reclining Youth, 2003/1959
Jacquard tapestry, 82 x 169 in. Edition of 5

In any case, monetary valuation is left to the future and is not our primary concern at Magnolia. When the painter Leon Golub received the initial proof of his fourteen-foot-long Reclining Youth tapestry from the mill and hung it on the wall, it was an emotional moment for us both. He sat down on a small stool in front of the expansive matrix of colored threads; after what seemed like an eternity of silence he walked over to the tapestry, touched a section, and began describing his amazement at the ability of the strands of twisted filament to articulate so well the reds and blues of a complex wash of paint. The moment was spiritual. That story is more important to me than the rate at which Golub's tapestry has gone up in price or how many people bought one last year; yet the latter is the only kind of information Mr. Grant has ever solicited from our studio.

Kiki Smith and Donald Farnsworth working on a tapestry weave file at Magnolia Editions in Oakland, CA in 2012.

One could not hope for a more devoted, interesting, and excited group of artists than those who have created tapestries at Magnolia Editions. Naturally it is important to me that our work with them is treated with respect in the media. In the future, I hope that more care will be taken to ensure that Mr. Grant's reporting on this subject is accurate.

Donald Farnsworth
Director, Magnolia Editions

Masami Teraoka and Donald Farnsworth working on a tapestry weave file at Magnolia Editions in Oakland, CA in 2010.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Vanity Fair, ABC News interview Chuck Close (video)

Chuck Close interviewed by Vanity Fair in his New York studio in early 2014; behind the artist are a suite of prints created at Magnolia Editions as maquettes from which Close is painting a new series of self-portraits.

In Vanity Fair's "Up Close and Personal," we go behind the scenes of a Chuck Close portrait sitting. Says the magazine: "Guest artist Chuck Close brought 20 Hollywood luminaries into his studio for a photo shoot with unusual and strict rules. He talks to us about how he gets everyone comfortable, even without a hair and makeup team, on the other side of his lens."

Keep an eye out for the appearance of three colorful self-portraits hung behind Close in one interview segment: they are 'proofs of concept,' maquettes based on Close's handmade collages and printed at large scale by Magnolia Editions as a reference for the artist to paint from.

Chuck Close interviewed by Vanity Fair in his New York studio in early 2014.

These prints may or may not ultimately result in a published edition -- but as it stands, they are a unique example of the cross-fertilization between printmaking and painting in Close's practice, and of Magnolia's continued dedication to providing artists with cutting-edge tools and techniques with which to realize their concepts.

Chuck Close interviewed by Vanity Fair in his New York studio in early 2014 with a suite of prints created at Magnolia Editions as maquettes, which Close is using as reference materials for new paintings.

Meanwhile, in this video from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation previewing a major Close exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Close and curator Terri Sultan discuss the artist's process and history with a panoply of Magnolia Editions publications and proofs in the background:












Once you check out the video, be sure to take a closer look at the editions pictured above on Magnolia Editions' website.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Chuck Close edition: Phil (Spiral)

Chuck Close - Phil (Spiral), 2014. Etching on Arches Cover Cream. 15.37 x 11.87 in. (paper 30 x 22 in.) Edition of 50

Magnolia Editions’ latest edition from Chuck Close is a tour de force of contemporary printmaking, but its origins lie in a masterpiece of engraving created almost three hundred years ago. Phil (Spiral), a portrait of Close’s friend and longtime subject, the modern composer Philip Glass, was inspired by the 17th-century French painter and engraver Claude Mellan’s print The Sudarium or Veil of St Veronica, which owes its fame to Mellan’s remarkable use of a single line to engrave a realistic human face.

Claude Mellan - The Sudarium or The Veil of Veronica, 1649. Copper plate engraving.
Photo by John R. Glembin.

Detail of Mellan's Sudarium. Photo by John R. Glembin.

As an artist who has created groundbreaking etchings for more than thirty years, Chuck Close was naturally touched by the singular achievement of Mellan’s Sudarium, even acquiring his own copy of the famous print. During a recent visit to Close’s New York studio, the artist proposed a challenge to Donald Farnsworth: could the contemporary printmaking wizardry of Magnolia Editions convincingly recreate the famed and reputedly “inimitable” technique of one of the great French engravers?

An early plate experiment for Phil (Spiral).


Naturally, the route to a successful Phil (Spiral) etching was an indirect one, with many twists and turns: at first, Close and Farnsworth used a combination of digital engraving tools and algorithms to generate a series of largely unsatisfactory tests and to roughly identify areas of light and dark where the line would need to change shape. Ultimately, the single line making up the print had to be manipulated and adjusted entirely by hand over a period of several months.

Detail from Phil (Spiral), 2014

“The existing algorithms and programs can turn your image into a series of concentric circles,” explains Farnsworth, “but they give you none of the depth that makes Mellan’s print so impressive. To achieve that kind of dimensionality, the line has to traverse the topography of the face at angles that demand a radical departure from the spiral. Even the smallest single hair on Phil’s head required a corresponding, minute undulation in the line.”

Nicholas Price pulls a proof of Phil (Spiral) on the etching press at Magnolia Editions.


Printed at Magnolia Editions by master printer Nicholas Price in an edition of 50 and signed and numbered by the artist, Phil (Spiral) reflects an ongoing dialogue between printmaking’s past and future, into which Chuck Close and Magnolia Editions continue to introduce unexpected and exciting possibilities.

For more information and detail views of both Close and Mellan's prints, please see this press release:


More artwork by Chuck Close from Magnolia Editions

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Stanford University workshop at Magnolia

Students from Stanford University's SIMILE program at Magnolia Editions in October, 2014.

Undergraduates from Stanford University's SIMILE program, an intensive program in which students explore the history of science and technology, visited Magnolia Editions this weekend for an intensive three-part workshop.

Photos of the event below were taken by Era Farnsworth, who coordinated the workshops with SIMILE assistant director Kristen Haring.

Nicholas Price and Donald Farnsworth with students from Stanford University's SIMILE program

After a quick tour of the studio's latest mixed-media innovations and print techniques, workshop participants learned to use raw materials to fabricate their own handmade ink, pens, and paper under the guidance of Magnolia's own Donald Farnsworth, Tallulah Terryll, Nicholas Price, and Heather Pratt, with additional demonstrations by artist Guy Diehl, book binder extraordinaire John DeMerritt, book artist Clifton Meador, and expert calligrapher Georgiana Greenwood.

Haring, together with Stanford professors Paula Findlen and Reviel Netz and SIMILE program lecturers Marcelo Aranda and Katherine McDonough, brought the group of more than fifty students to the studio in late October, just before Halloween. Appropriately, participants had the chance to grind their own inks from charred pig bones and oak gall, giving everyone an opportunity to get into the spirit of the season.

Oak gall, used in ink-making; photo by Guy Diehl

Tallulah Terryll with students from Stanford's SIMILE program, making ink at Magnolia Editions in October 2014

Oak gall, ground up and used in ink-making

Students from Stanford's SIMILE program making ink at Magnolia Editions

Students from Stanford's SIMILE program making ink at Magnolia Editions

Students from Stanford's SIMILE program, making ink at Magnolia Editions in October 2014

Tallulah Terryll with students from Stanford's SIMILE program, making ink at Magnolia Editions in October 2014

Painting by Guy Diehl: coffee black pigment made at Magnolia Editions

Pigments made at Magnolia Editions, September 2014

Meanwhile, John DeMerritt and visiting photographer/book guru Clifton Meador supervised a demonstration of basic book binding and stitching techniques in Magnolia's front workroom.

Students from Stanford University's SIMILE program with John DeMerritt and Clifton Meador at Magnolia Editions

SIMILE students try some bookbinding techniques at Magnolia Editions

Heather Pratt at a bookbinding workshop at Magnolia Editions

In the back room where Magnolia's framing and wood working usually take place, Guy Diehl helped the students create their own handmade ink pens out of bamboo, while Georgiana Greenwood used the newly fabricated pens to demonstrate some calligraphy techniques.

Guy Diehl with students from Stanford University's SIMILE program at Magnolia Editions

Made by Guy Diehl at Magnolia Editions; photo by Guy Diehl

Made by Guy Diehl at Magnolia Editions; photo by Guy Diehl

Georgiana Greenwood demonstrates calligraphy to SIMILE students at Magnolia Editions

And in Magnolia's handmade paper studio, Donald Farnsworth discussed the science of handmade paper and led a workshop in creating paper from raw pulp.

Donald Farnsworth with students from Stanford University's SIMILE program

Donald Farnsworth with students from Stanford University's SIMILE program

Heather Pratt with students from Stanford University's SIMILE program

Don Farnsworth, Heather Pratt, Clifton Meador and John DeMerritt in Magnolia Editions's handmade paper studio

Magnolia Editions would like to thank Kristen Haring and all at SIMILE for identifying Magnolia as a destination for students of scientific innovation, providing yet more evidence that science and the arts are simply two sides of the same coin. Haring tells us that the students will use the materials they made at Magnolia to produce their own medieval-style codices as a means to consider how scientific knowledge was transmitted over the centuries.

Thanks also go to the terrific group from Stanford for their enthusiastic participation!

Stanford students grinding handmade inks at Magnolia Editions, October 2014

To be notified of upcoming events and workshops, stay tuned to this blog and be sure to sign up for Magnolia Editions's mailing list here.

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