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Related: 1400s - engraving - printmaking - printing - reproduction - visual culture

Earlier forms of reproduction, such as woodcuts, etching, lithography, and so on, could replicate objects, but photography was different: "From today, painting is dead!" claimed artist Paul Delaroche on seeing his first Daguerreotype in 1839. Photography took over traditional roles of painting, immediately depicting landscapes, the still life and making portraits, etc; doubtless making portrait artists such as Delaroche redundant.

"For the first time in the process of pictorial reproduction, photography freed the hand of the most important artistic functions which henceforth devolved only upon the eye looking into a lens". --http://www.obsolete.com/artwork/commentary.html [Dec 2004]


Woodcut, which appeared in the 8th century in the East and in the early 15th century in the West, is the earliest known relief-printing method. --http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-28281 [Jan 2006]

Woodcut, a type of relief print, is thought to be the earliest printmaking technique, dating back to 9th century China. The artist draws a sketch on a plank of wood and then uses sharp tools to carve away the parts of the block that he/she does not want to receive the ink. The raised parts of the block are inked with a brayer, then a sheet of paper, perhaps slightly damp, is placed over the block. The block is then rubbed with a baren or spoon, or is run through the press. Separate blocks are used for each color. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printmaking#Woodcut [Jan 2006]

A woodcut is a wooden printing surface used in woodblock printing, a method in which an image is carved into the surface of a piece of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with chisels. The surface is covered with ink by rolling over the surface with an ink-covered roller (brayer), leaving ink upon the flat surface but not in the non-printing areas. Paper is then placed face-down on the woodblock and pressure is applied to the back, either by printing press or with hand-held tools such as a spoon or a baren (though any hard, slightly curved surface will do). The ink is transferred to the paper by the pressure, and the mirror image of the surface of the woodblock is printed. The finished print is also often called a woodcut. Multiple colors can be printed by keying the paper to a frame around the woodblocks (where one woodcut is used for each color). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodcut [Jan 2006]

I Modi

Plate from the
I Modi collection (1524)
Giulio Romano (drawing), Marcantonio Raimondi (engraving)

The text I Modi was an erotic album of the Italian Renaissance created by the designer Giulio Romano, the engraver Marcantonio Raimondi and the poet Pietro Aretino. I Modi ("The Sixteen Pleasures") contains images of 16 sexual positions created by Romano and Raimondi with a text written by Aretino. Although all original copies have been lost, with the exception of a few fragments in the British Museum, two copies of posture 1, and a woodcut copy from the sixteenth century, the set was republished during the 19th century by Jean Frederic Waldeck. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Modi [Oct 2005]

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