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On degrees of separation

I've been teaching printmaking classes in the past year, and people have asked me where I studied. I tell them that I learned intaglio etching with a German artist called Thomas Gosebruch, when I was living in London. Thomas told me that he had worked for a while in the workshop of Aldo Crommelynck, who was one of the great master printers of the twentieth century. Crommelynck worked side by side with some of the greatest artists of the School of Paris - Arp, Giacommetti, Miro, Braque - helping them prepare their etching plates, making technical suggestions, etching the plates, then proofing the prints and printing the editions. In the 1960s, Crommelynck helped Picasso produce as many as 750 etchings, including the notorious 347 series, in a final masterful statement in a medium that Picasso had always loved.

One of the reasons that I had decided to study printmaking was because of prints such as Picasso's. One in particular, Blind Minotaur Being Led by a Girl, I had known long before I learned the techniques of etching (I've discussed this print in a previous blog entry). I was keen to find out how Picasso did his aquatints, and it turned out that Crommelynck was responsible for that, and my teacher had learned aquatint techniques from Crommelynck. It still blows my mind that I accidentally found my way to a teacher who was only two degrees of separation away from the great Pabs himself. If I ever produce a print that is half as good as one by PP, or Thomas Gosebruch, I will die a happy man.

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