George Rodrigue’s first print of 2013 breaks new ground for the artist. Partial to silkscreens for his Blue Dog designs, he ventures instead into complex lithography, channeling printmaking giants of the past.
“It’s the first print I’ve created for the gallery that’s truly an original lithograph made from twenty-two plates, printed on stone, in the same way prints were made from the beginning using copper plates or stone by artists like Rembrandt, Chagall and Dali.” –George Rodrigue
(pictured, Looking for a Beach House, 2013. Lithograph by George Rodrigue; signed and remarqued edition of 90, 40x30 inches; click photo to enlarge-)
Rodrigue searched for years but failed to find this quality of printmaking within the United States. He abandoned the idea long ago, assuming in this day of easy, mass-produced reproductions that these handmade stone lithographs no longer exist.
However, in 2008 Heidi Barrett and John Schwartz of Amuse Bouche Winery, Napa Valley, contacted Rodrigue about a wine label, which they hoped to reproduce in France as a stone lithograph. Intrigued by their genuine interest in the quality and originality of his designs, along with their similar commitment to their high quality, small-production winery, Rodrigue agreed to the project, painting Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, an image for their wine label and lithograph.
(pictured, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? 2008 by George Rodrigue, 40x30 inches for the 2006 vintage of Amuse Bouche, now sold out; the original painting remains in the private collection of Amuse Bouche Winery; the lithograph, like the wine, is sold out-)
Thanks to the introduction from the folks at Amuse Bouche, Rodrigue learned of a company in Paris, France still producing prints in the traditional manner. As a result, five years later, Looking for a Beach House is his second true lithograph and his first offered to collectors exclusively through his gallery.
In addition, for the first time Rodrigue sketches a two-inch original remarque in the border of each of the ninety prints.
“The print’s so special,” says the artist, “that I felt compelled to add an original drawing to the mystique of each one.”
(pictured, George Rodrigue remarques each of the ninety prints within the Looking for a Beach House edition from his home in Carmel, California; April 2013; click photos to enlarge-)
“Unlike my silkscreens,” explains Rodrigue, “this print comes from an original painting. I also worked with fifteen other artists and craftsmen to make this happen. Each person specializes in a different field including separating the colors, etching the stone, and hand-printing the colors individually, layered one on top of the other, creating a continuous tone image similar to an original painting.
“This is completely different from the lithographs of my early Cajun paintings, which were inexpensive four-color reproductions, poster style.”
The color of this print is unlike anything I’ve seen from George or, frankly, from anyone. Once he understood the capabilities of this French printing company, he painted the work to best utilize the process. The colors are rich and varied with an appearance similar to an oily and interminable chalk.
The paper is the highest grade rag content available today. In layman’s terms, this means the texture is soft and pliable, manufactured to best absorb the lithography ink. This is unlike the hard, almost cardboard-like silkscreen paper, designed so that the colors remain layered on top.
I asked George about the imagery, because I can’t help but see the umbrella as his oak tree, framing the dog, bucket and shovel.
“I went to the beach for the first time in 1957,” he reflects. “I played in the sand beneath my parents’ umbrella, and I remember my mama envious of our friends who owned beach houses, while we stayed in a single room travel motel. But I always felt lucky just to be at the beach.”
…so lucky, in fact, that he kept the original painting in our personal collection, hanging it within our home.
“This new beach print is the most beautiful printing job I’ve ever seen,” says Rodrigue, “and I’m already at work with the Paris folks on another project, due later this year.”
-Looking for a Beach House is available as a lithograph only; size 40x30 inches, edition of 90, each with an original remarque sketch by George Rodrigue; for availability and pricing, contact Rodrigue Studio-
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