What is chine-collé?

The museum has four works that use the chine-collé printmaking technique and three of them are currently on display.

Stuart Davis, Place des Vosges, 1928, Chine colle lithograph on paper 10 1/2 x 14 1/2 in.; 26.67 x 36.83 cm.. Acquired 1930. The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

Chine-collé,  succinctly described in the Tamarind Book of Lithography: Art and Techniques, is a printmaking process in which a very thin sheet of paper is printed on and simultaneously mounted to a thicker backing paper. The thin paper can receive a better impression, but is too fragile to stand alone. The combination of the thin paper and the heavier backing creates a fine impression and a stable supported ground. Additionally, sometimes a pleasing contrast can be created through tonal differences between the two materials.

Building an Online Print Workshop

screenshot of the Phillips's Jasper Johns printmaking interactive

Recent exhibition Jasper Johns: Variations on a Theme focused on Johns’s creative impulses and collaborations with several distinguished print shops. To produce events and content for the exhibition, Phillips staff also engaged in rich, inter-departmental collaborations. Assistant Curator Renée Maurer and Digital Media Manager Michelle Herman teamed up to create the museum’s first ever in-house microsite Jasper Johns: Variations on a Theme Printmaking Workshop. They reflect on the process here. 

Renée Maurer: From the beginning, I wanted there to be a workshop for visitors to see the tools of printmaking. I also wanted there to be a program where visitors could experience firsthand how to make a print. I worked with Brooke Rosenblatt and Amanda Jiron-Murphy in the education department to bring master printer Scip Barnhart to the museum for a program. We decided Scip’s event would have to be small as it would take place in the workshop adjacent to the exhibition. I was able borrow materials from Scip for the show, and he agreed to lead a type of printmaking class. His enthusiasm for the program and for Johns was so high that he even made a lithographic stone and an etching plate with imagery from the exhibition for the occasion, which he pulled (ahead of time) for attendees.

Michelle Herman: A working group that I lead considered ways to feature digital content from the exhibition on the Phillips website. After looking at various examples such as MoMA’s What is a Print?, we devised a plan to shoot Scip’s workshop on video and showcase it in a custom-built microsite. This would allow the workshop to have an impact beyond its small in-person audience. We enlisted A/V Support Specialist Mark Weiner to accomplish this task. Scips’ program was filmed and then edited down to focus on the three printmaking processes: etching, lithography, and silkscreen. Renée recorded voice-over to describe Scip’s actions and added contextual information for the site based on the concepts from the exhibition.

Renée Maurer: Everyone did a fantastic job. Mark was great; he had to cut and paste a lot of footage, and then we had to match my narration with the steps that Scip was performing. Michelle offered a wonderful vision.

Michelle Herman: I worked on the concept, design, and development of the interactive. Assisted by my summer interns Jordan Albro (designer extraordinaire) and Michelle Shen (HTML guru), I began to think about how the site would look and function. I tasked Jordan and Michelle to research potential model sites that focused on video content. After reviewing several of them, we decided to build the site as a single page that would allow the user to fluidly scroll between each of the three sections. After spending time in the exhibition, I was really captured by Johns’s use of different paper colors and the rough textures he created through some of the print processes. I knew the interactive should mimic this textural quality.

I developed the initial design concept and explained my idea to Jordan (who acted as junior designer on the project). He then turned these digital sketches into backgrounds and other components of the site. The result is layered, complex, and just beautiful. While Jordan was refining the design, Michelle (who served as the site developer) began coding. Her HTML skills were incredibly impressive—and fast! My team presented these concepts to Renée, who was very receptive and excited by our ideas. We then pushed forward to create the site. With the addition of a new multimedia section to our recently relaunched website, the Jasper Johns interactive now has a home and can serve as a resource going forward.

Renée Maurer: I think the site looks terrific, and we will continue to update it. I would definitely work on an interactive like this again. The only problems we encountered had to do with scheduling. Shooting and reviewing the footage was also more challenging than I expected. Overall it was a great learning experience. I enjoyed working with colleagues in different departments and with technology.

Renée Maurer, Assistant Curator, and Michelle Herman, Digital Media Manager

Jasper Johns at the Phillips and Abroad

Bill Goldston talks to visitors in the galleries

Bill Goldston talks to visitors in front of Johns’s work, Untitled (2011), on July 12, 2012. Photo: Benjamin Resine

In 1960, Jasper Johns was introduced to printmaking by Tatyana Grosman, who in 1957 founded Universal Limited Art Editions, a fine art publishing house in Long Island, New York. Grosman invited artists like Johns to her workshop to learn lithography. Master printer Bill Goldston met Johns there and collaborated with him on major works such as Decoy (1971) on view in the exhibition Jasper Johns: Variations on a Theme at The Phillips Collection.

Goldston became the director of ULAE in 1982 and he continues to work with Johns and other artists. He considers Johns’s recent print Untitled (2011) a tour de force in etching: “John Lund [Johns’s master printer] told me that the whole thing is spit bite [a process in which an acid solution is painted directly on a prepared plate]. . . . You have to marvel at Jasper: there are 11 colors printed from only three plates. You print the multicolored blue plate, then the red and yellow plate, and finally the black plate. What you need is timing—you don’t want the blue plate or red plate to dry fully or else the black won’t print cleanly. . . . It is extraordinary that an artist possesses the technical foresight in etching something like this.”

Goldston, who spoke at the Phillips last night about his work with Johns, recently curated an exhibition of Johns prints at the Instituto Tomie Ohtake in Brazil.