Ed Ruscha

When Paper is More than a Surface

Paper is fundamental to traditional printmaking, but paper as a medium can be as diverse as the images printed on its surface. Surface Tension: Contemporary Prints from the Anderson Collection (on view at the de Young through January 15, 2012) puts paper front and center, exploring the ways in which artists from the late 1960s to today engage paper as more than just a surface.

Though no ink touched the paper in Josef Albers's Embossed Linear Construction series (1969),  he used embossing, a traditional printmaking process, to transform ordinary sheets of watercolor paper into subtle bas-relief constructions that extend into the viewer’s space.

Josef Albers (American, 1888–1976). Embossed Linear Construction 2-D, from a portfolio of 8 inkless embossings, 1969. Inkless embossing on 300-gram Arches watercolor paper. Anderson Graphic Arts Collection, gift of the Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson Charitable Foundation. 1996.74.17.8

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