Born in Chicago in 1931, Ken Tyler’s first apprenticeship in a renowned printmaking studio was at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles, where he worked under then-technical director Irwin Hollander. In 1965 he would co-found the celebrated workshop Gemini G.E.L., also in Los Angeles, and would immediately gain a reputation of being able to do the impossible in printmaking. His ability to produce editions of unprecedented scale with mixed media elements and nearly-sculptural relief attracted artists such as Joseph Albers, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.
In 1973, Tyler broke from Gemini G.E.L. in order to move to the New York area and open Tyler Graphics Ltd. in close proximity to the artists in with whom he desired to work. This was partly on the advice of Robert Motherwell, with whom Tyler had made some of his most important editions while at the end of his tenure at Gemini in March/April 1973. The most notable of these series was entitled the Summer Light Series, in which Motherwell incorporated collaged elements in printmaking for the first time since attempting to do so with ULAE in 1970. In creating these prints, Motherwell would first make a unique collage which Tyler would meticulously document. Each element would then be individually reproduced and printed, and the composition assembled before being adhered to the paper and run through a printing press. This highly innovative technique would be replicated by Tyler and Motherwell eleven years later in the form of the America – La France series, published by Tyler Graphics in 1984.
Ken Tyler is widely regarded as the most innovative printmaker of the post-war era, having collaborated on ambitious editions with David Hockney, Ellsworth Kelly, Joan Mitchell, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist and Frank Stella, among many others. Significant holdings of Ken Tyler prints and archives can be found at the Center for Contemporary Graphic Art, Fukushima, Japan; the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; the National Gallery of Australia, Canbarra; the Singapore Tyler Print Institute at the Singapore Art Museum; the Tate Gallery, London, UK; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.