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Alex Reduction Block (1993)
First, they had to substitute an inferior grade of linoleum when the original “battleship linoleum” (fine quality that “cuts like butter”) cracked while being unloaded in the Wisconsin cold. Next, the custom made Japanese paper that arrived was unsuitable. There was no time to reorder material: the staff was available only for the next two-weeks. Working round the clock, under the guidance of Close and printer Joe Wilfer, they proceeded to cut the replacement linoleum, although they knew it would never look right as a reduction block print. Because reduction block printing involves the eventual cutting away of most of the block, the collaborators wisely documented the progressive stages by printing them in black on sheets of thin, plastic sheeting called Mylar.

In the end, all they had was the set of Mylars. Wilfer though it would be perfect for a silk screen project. Each Mylar sheet could be made into one screen. The final result seen here is a silk screen print in a variety of grays, giving Alex’s face a shimmering, almost metallic quality. The original linoleum cut marks are visible in the final silk screen print. The subject, Alex Katz (born 1927), the American painter, sculptor and printmaker, is a longtime friend of Close’s. Katz’s large, figurative images (often women) emphasize the flatness of the picture plane. Like Close, Katz has translated his style into numerous print projects.

Title: Alex Reduction Block
Process: Silk screen from reduction linoleum cut
Size: 79 3/8 x 60 3/8"
Edition: 35
Printer: Brand X Editions, New York, printer (Robert Blanton, Thomas Little, Jason Engelhard, Joseph Stauber. Original reduction linocut, Tandem press with Bill Weege, Joe Wilfer)
Publisher: Pace Editions, Inc., New York
Part of Exhibition: Yes

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