440 Gallery | Brooklyn NY

Shop talk, answers to your FAQs, and a peek behind the scenes of an artist-run fine art gallery in Park Slope

Monotype? Monoprint? What IS that?

These two terms are often used as if they were interchangeable, even by knowledgeable artists, but there is actually an important distinction between them. I confess for a long time I myself was unsure of the difference between these two printing processes. Rather inexcusable, considering the years I’ve spent in the shop creating these “printed drawings” (Degas).

So I rang up my friend, Master Printer Kathy Caraccio, and asked – of course she was in the middle of an edition – but her assistant help up the phone and she called out “with a monoprint there is always a matrix but with a variation…the monotype is totally a unique image every pull.” Then she sent me to look at MOMA’S print department website. Their description says, more or less, the same thing: monotype is a print and process in which a drawing or painting is executed on a flat unworked printing plate and run through a press giving you a unique, single impression.

Mondevilla, monotype

A monoprint is a uniquely inked and printed impression from a print matrix. That fixed element could be many things – a piece of lace, a leaf, a cut paper shape, and etched line, a pattern or piece of image that appears in each impression.

Winter Weeds, monoprint

In a way, each artist invents his own procedure. There are so many approaches and means to bring your own experience. I recently used a carborundum line as my matrix in a monoprint series. I compare it to the drawn line in a monotype I printed around the same time. I’ve been using both of these methods in the shop. Now, knowing and exploring the characteristics of both processes is going to be fun and provocative.

Contributed by 440 member Gail Flanery.

One comment on “Monotype? Monoprint? What IS that?

  1. Drew Kail
    March 7, 2012

    Thanks for the info. I always refer to a monotype as a print done in a single pressing, from a single matrix. I use monoprint to refer to any print that is a unique impression, regardless of the amount of matrix or processes involved. I guess I’m kind of in the ballpark. Thanks again.

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This entry was posted on March 6, 2012 by in What's that? and tagged , , , , , , .

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