Art has rarely looked as good on paper as it does this month at the FPDA Print Fair. This annual event, which is held this year 27-30 October at the Javits Center on Eleventh Avenue in Manhattan, draws together a truly global selection of carefully chosen galleries, dealers and presses, offering fine art prints and editions from almost every period, continent, style and school.
Founded back in 1987 as the International Fine Print Dealers Association, the IFPDA is now seen as one of the art world’s leading print organisations; its members, affiliates and staff work hard to foster knowledge and connoisseurship, and stimulate discussion around the collection, preservation and appreciation of prints, via grants, awards, exhibitions, and of course its fair.
Over the next few days we will be highlighting some of our partners taking part in this year’s event. We begin with Tandem Press, a highly respected print publisher, studio space, gallery and educational concern based in Madison, Wisconsin.
Tandem was also established in 1987, and over the last 35 years it has been producing editions by such sought-after artists as Derrick Adams, Lynda Benglis, Katherine Bradford, Sam Gilliam, Robert Kelly, David Lynch, Jim Dine, Al Held, Sean Scully, and Mickalene Thomas.
In this interview, Tandem curator Sona Pastel-Daneshgar describes the press’s pioneering processes; its current offerings; how print making and editions can be viewed as both an ancient and a contemporary, progressive practice; and why, decade after decade, artists return to Tandem, thanks to its collaborative, innovative holistic approach to fine art editions. When you’ve read the interview check out Tandem’s partner page on Artspace here.
Can you tell us who you are, what you do, and a little of your history? Tandem Press was founded in 1987. We are a publisher of fine art prints that hosts internationally renowned artists in our studio space, assisting them as they create original fine art editions. Using an array of traditional and contemporary printmaking techniques, we stand at the forefront of research, experimentation, and new developments in the field of printmaking and have established ourselves as a leader among international fine art print publishers.
Since our founding, we have produced original fine art editions by over one hundred esteemed artists including Derrick Adams, Lynda Benglis, Richard Bosman, Katherine Bradford, Suzanne Caporael, Squeak Carnwath, Robert Cottingham, Lesley Dill, Jim Dine, Jeffrey Gibson, Sam Gilliam, Michelle Grabner, Manabu Ikeda, Al Held, Robert Kelly, David Lynch, Cameron Martin, Maser, Judy Pfaff, Alison Saar, Sean Scully, David Shapiro, Alan Shields, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Swoon, and Mickalene Thomas.
As a gallery, Tandem represents, promotes, and sells the artworks created in our studio both locally through exhibitions in our gallery, and nationally through participation in several internationally renowned annual art fairs. The prints created at Tandem are sold through various avenues to a wide range of collectors including individuals, galleries, corporations, healthcare institutions, etc. Many prestigious museums throughout the world have acquired prints from Tandem Press for their permanent collections.
Do you have a prime focus as a studio? Our professionally trained collaborative printmakers have decades of experience in traditional methods of printmaking such as woodcut, etching, and lithography as well as newer techniques like solar plate etching, polymer plate relief, and archival inkjet printing. We often combine multiple techniques in one print edition and have been known since our inception for pushing the boundaries of the printmaking medium.
In addition to our professional and research operatives, Tandem Press is also an important educational entity affiliated alongside the Art Department within the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Students employed at Tandem complement their coursework with practical hands-on experience, gaining an unparalleled insight into the professional art world by working as assistants to our collaborative printers and curators in the production and promotion of fine art prints created by leading contemporary artists. We are one of only three university-affiliated professional printmaking studios of our size in the United States.
Who are the artists you have print editions with at IFPDA and what should we know about them? For our 2022 IFPDA Print Fair presentation, we will debut new prints by Derrick Adams, Lesley Dill, and Cameron Martin. We will also exhibit recent prints by Jeffrey Gibson, Suzanne Caporael, Manabu Ikeda, and Alison Saar that have not been shown at the IFPDA fair previously.
Derrick Adams’s new prints, a continuation of his Style Variation series, explore Black identity and empowerment achieved through acts of styling. They celebrate rituals of self-expression that do not need to be contextualized to have value, and they champion what Adams calls one’s individual “fantastic-ness.”
In Suzanne Caporael’s most recent print Origins of the Elements, which was inspired by the Periodic Table of the Elements, she carefully mixed colors to represent cosmic events that are the sources of elements in the universe.
Lesley Dill’s work is profoundly spiritual and explores the relationship between text and images. Her new prints relate to her recent body of work that studies several daring and courageous American abolitionists and religious figures from the 18th-20th centuries, including Dred Scott, Sojourner Truth, and Heavenly Mother Ann Lee.
Manabu Ikeda weaves elements of civilization and nature into fantastic narratives which emanate a sense of pure curiosity and abundant imagination. Ikeda’s new intaglio print “The Legendary Mountain” reimagines a Japanese fable of tragedy, hope, and mystery.
A Mississippi Choctaw/Cherokee artist, Jeffrey Gibson uses recognizable Native American materials such as beads, fringe, and elk hide in his artwork. His colorful, graphic, and often text-inclusive works create powerful statements that reorient the place and status of Native American art within contemporary culture.
In Cameron Martin’s current work, the act of representation takes precedence over the representation itself. The non-objective images read as screens, containers for information, or illusions of animated space that include shapes and forms reminiscent of recognizable signs or symbols.
Alison Saar’s personal identity and experience with racism and sexism fuels the narratives she tells through her sculptures, drawings, and prints. Saar, a biracial woman with a lighter complexion, continues her exploration of hair and the various rituals, expectations, and connotations that revolve around it in her new editions.
What do you feel that you bring to the print process that makes you special or different to other printmakers? Artists are drawn to work with Tandem Press in part because of our reputation for experimentation and our willingness to undertake highly ambitious print-based projects. Many of the prints created at Tandem incorporate multiple printmaking techniques and/or unconventional materials in highly creative and innovative ways. Through continuing research, our collaborative printmakers are able to identify and use the best techniques, equipment, and materials available to achieve our artists’ creative visions and create exceptional printed editions.
Print editions are increasingly being seen more as artworks in their own right once again, what do you think has brought about this re-appraisal? Though printmaking has roots reaching back to 2nd century BCE, it is perhaps unique among art forms in its tendency to enthusiastically embrace new methods and ideas. Contemporary printmaking is no different. As previously mentioned, we ourselves utilize many contemporary techniques in Tandem’s studio in addition to, and/or in combination with, traditional techniques.
We have found that artists are increasingly interested in experimenting with different media, and that printmaking provides an opportunity to explore projects in new and exciting ways. When artists are invited to work in Tandem’s studio, they not only have access to equipment they may not have in their own studios, but they also have an extraordinary chance to work with our collaborative printers who are experts in myriad printmaking methods.
Lastly, many artists are interested in producing work that can be sold at more accessible price points. Limited editions of prints provide an opportunity for collectors to acquire original works by artists at a price that is typically much lower than unique works like paintings and sculptures.