The 1960s saw a boom in printmaking in the United States. One of the forerunners of the print renaissance was the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles, where Irwin Hollander trained first as a printer-fellow before becoming technical director. It was at this time that he began pioneering techniques involving the use of tusche (a greaselike liquid) and lithographic crayons that allowed Abstract Expressionists such as Willem de Kooning, Sam Francis, Philip Guston and Robert Motherwell to create prints that incorporated their intuitive, gestural mark-making.
Acknowledging the importance and potential of this innovation, Hollander would take his unique expertise to the epicenter of the AbEx movement in 1964, and open the Hollander Workshop at 90 East Tenth Street in New York. He would write the following year:
“I have made a total commitment to my role as artisan-printer because I want to see the art of lithography grow. The printer is very much involved with the imagery; he wants to see the same image grow, and will do all sorts of things to make it possible. On the other hand, the artist learns the possibilities and limitations of the medium as he works with the experienced printer. As he learns, his desire to extend the medium, based on his image, forces the painter to do more. It’s a kind of cat’s cradle. One thing leads to another. This is the essence of true collaboration. ”1
Motherwell would work closely with Hollander from 1965 to 1967, ultimately producing thirty-seven editions including The Madrid Suite and a series of iconic Summertime in Italy variations. Motherwell would continuously experiment and build on his graphic oeuvre in the years to come, but his collaboration with Irwin Hollander was the unequivocal beginning of what became a lifelong ambition.
Excerpt from a Hollander Workshop press release, 1965; courtesy of the Dedalus Foundation.1