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Art and the Printing Press 2011. The catalogue.

Title: Art and the Printing Press 2011
Curator: Vladimiro Elvieri
Cover price: n.d.
Data: 138p. – ill. – in 4° – in italiano
Year: 2011
Publisher: A.D.A.F.A. – Via Palestro, 32 (C.P. 19) – 26100 Cremona – Italy
ISBN: n.d.


Cover: Art and the Printing Press 2011. The catalogue.
Cover: Art and the Printing Press 2011. The catalogue.

Art and the Printing Press 2001 Between Present and Future

“A work of art is fascinating inasmuch it has been an adventure,carrying signs it contains, showing the battles the artist had to fight against the resistance of the materials used. All this, as the artist did not even know where it would have taken him”.

Jean Dubuffet “I valori selvaggi”, Feltrinelli 1971


In inaugurating this VII International Festival of Printmaking L’ARTE E IL TORCHIO /ART AND THE PRINTING PRESS we cannot but remember two extraordinary figures of art and culture recently passed away, who have left to all of us, who love and live art, a great heredity of thought and actions.  The first, Dino Formaggio, art philosopher, died on December 6, 2008; the preceding 6th biennial was dedicated to him; the second, artist Witold Skulicz, died a year later in December 2009.  Skulicz, was the organizer of the famous Graphic Art Triennial of Cracow from 1966 to 2009.  Both have contributed in a determining way to the growth and the international prestige of Cremona’s Festival, making it a ‘not to be missed’ appointment for artists, art and print lovers.

Dino Formaggio, who became a real good friend of mine, stimulated me since the beginning to go on with the promotion and valorisation of  contemporary engraving, always rich with new experiments and ulterior expressive possibilities.  In a TV interview of 2003, for “Art and the Printing Press”, he testified that art “remains a fundamental experience of life and passions, more than research, that can overcome time and death.  Art can also go beyond ethic indications so then it creates a moral life of solidarity and liberty”.  We had the honour of publishing his texts, some of them for the first time, in catalogues of ‘Art and the Printing Press’, editions 1999 to 2009.

Witold Skulicz, generously collaborated with the Cremonese biennial by promoting some exhibitions of prestige dedicated to significant Polish graphic artists, whose works were donated to the Museum of Cremona; in 2005, on an invitation from the Polish Triennial, at the Italian Institute of Culture in Cracow, we held the exhibition “Italian Printmaking under 35”.  We would like to remind our readers that an exhibition is taking place at the Silesian Museum in Katowice of  94 works donated by major Italian contemporary printmakers; this exhibition was ideated by Prof. Skulicz and myself –  corresponding to the donation of Polish works to the Museum of Cremona –  to nourish an intensive cultural and artistic dialogue.

The 7th Biennial “ART & THE PRINTING PRESS” in the section dedicated to “small format”, where, since 1999,  artists of international fame coming from 50 countries had the possibility to meet, goes on with its enquiry on new experiments and most recent research linked to engraving techniques in the various cultures, from burin to drypoint, from mezzotint to indirect techniques such as etching, aquatint, soft ground etching and relief (xylography and linocut) as well as carborundum and collagraph.  They are autonomous languages with their own specificities, able to renew themselves continuously, according to each single artist’s requests, an art that never stops to surprise and provoke emotions in us,  manual techniques that are still the basis of the highest artistic expression.

The Cremona Biennial, by means of the works in the exhibition CANADIAN PRINTMAKERS at the Museo Civico Ala Ponzone, deals with aspects linked to the near future of serial graphic art, where the so-called “traditional” engraving finds itself faced with photo-engraving (getting back to the origins of the first photographic experiments with plates engraved with acid) or with digital prints, in a continuous experiment, nevertheless always using  a press.  A “print” trying to find new ways, trying to go beyond, to measure itself with the “unknown”.  The exhibition of Canadian artists, organized by Derek M. Besant and Laurence Quetelart (for Québec), authors of the texts in the catalogue, is exemplary in this sense.  It shows, by means of a variety of  old and modern techniques, images of a world in continuous evolution, seen through the sensibility, the emotions and the passions of the selected authors.  The works have been realized with methods sometimes unknown in Italy, that will not be easily “digested” by those (so-called “print specialists”) who accept with difficulty any type of innovation or experimentation, always ready to discriminate, incompatibly with the idea of art itself, the artists that do not comply to their dogmas and  absurd rules.

The exhibition dedicated to the print workshop TORCHIO THIENE and its printer and publisher Armando Martini, held at Casa Sperlari, headquarters of ADAFA, also puts in evidence some aspects of research in the field of printmaking in Italy, that for too long, specially if conducted in a provincial environment, did not get the attention of important public or private institutions, therefore of the market.  In spite of this, starting in the 70s of the last century, the print workshop “Torchio Thiene” (from the homonymous city in the province of Vicenza) became a reference for young or older artists, whether established or not, who intended discovering new expressive possibilities through the numerous chalcographic techniques, apart from the more “traditional”, taught by Armando Martini, printer always experimenting, one of the most innovative on the Italian contemporary panorama.  Works exhibited are of various formats, some of which are recent and realized with the “Martini technique” by Italian and foreign artists attending the workshop.  Today it has moved to the 1600s’ Villa Cà Beregane, in the surroundings of Thiene, once mentioned by Goethe in his book “Viaggio in Italia” (Journey to Italy).

In Soncino, the Print Museum, recently valorised in terms of organization by the local Pro Loco, directed by Mauro Bodini, as usual hosts a section dedicated to EX LIBRIS.  The Exhibition, organized by AIE (Italian Association of Ex-Libris) and its president Mauro Mainardi, author of a text in the catalogue, shows by means of a precious collection of recent ex-libris made by important Italian and foreign artists the fundamental themes of everyday living in relationship with an evermore polluted environment – by man – and how urgent is a collective awareness and responsibility linked to new models of eco compatible development.

Lastly, the Museo Civico di Cremona hosts, for the whole duration of the exhibition, a didactic workshop, where visitors and school children can be present at theorical lessons and on reservation, actively participate at the realization of an original print that will be printed on the press, to help them better understand the process and time involved in an ancien art as the Man, that today succeeds in bringing alive his dreams in spite of a daily reality ever more degraded in its moral values, where culture does not seem to be seen as a moment of growth, as a form of aggregation and sharing of a common patrimony, as a base of liberty in a civil society.

Vladimiro Elvieri


Thanks to: Vladimiro Elvieri and Mauro Mainardi

(Artifex received a free copy of the shown catalogue – link is to a page in Italian)