ARCHIVE / 1998 / Texts

Francesc Miralles Bofarull
Art Historian

The Mini Print of Cadaqués and the Myths of the World of Graphic Art

Every year when the Mini Print International exhibition arrives in Cadaqués I think of the quantity of myths and legends that have structured the world of prints. Myths and legends that have formed the rich history of printmaking as we know it today.

Now I recall some of them. One of the most impassioned is a story of Andrea Mantegna’s workshop in the last third of the fifteenth century: the economic importance of this artist’s large printmaking studio was so great that two printmakers who tried to leave and set up their own workshop in the same city were ferociously beaten and denounced to the authorities of Mantua, who obliged the efficient and independent printmakers to flee to Verona. It is possible that the commercial importance of the workshop was the reason that until the end of the seventeenth century it was said that Mantegna had invented printmaking. Unfortunately only sevent prints by this Renaissance genius are known.

History, myths. Dunoyer de Segonzac, the traditional French artist, a great lover and creater of etchings had such an intense devotion for the printing plates, that once the edition was printed he had them gold plated. He thus converted a tool of the trade into a piece of jewelry.

Myths, history. Hieronymus Cock was a discreet Flemish painter and engraver who organized the most famous, active and richest workshop of the sixteenth century in Antwerp. He introduced the division of work which consisted of (del.) draughtsman; (pinx.) painter; (inv.) creator of the design; (fec.) maker; (sculp. inc.) engraver; (excud.) owner of the plate or editor. A complete organization – In der vier Winden (of the four winds) – complex, organized into guilds, which was at the antipodes to the current concept of printmaking.

Legends. If Cock was recriminated for having renounced and abandoned culture and art in order to create an international commerce in prints, the commotion in France was great when in 1745 the first prints of «Les prisons» of Giovanni Battista Piranesi arrived: it was written that nobody had confronted engraving plates with his courage, that he was a visionary and poet, that he imbued prints with previously unknown accents. «Les prisons», from the very beginning excited all spirits.

Myths, history. I can not forget Jacques Callot, the printmaker from Nancy, who was the first artist, of international influence, recognized internationally for his work in printmaking alone. All of the 17th century was fed by his innovations, in the same way that during his lifetime, four courts fought over him. His succes was so smashing that even novels spoke about the prototypical person obsessed with collecting works by Callot.

Legends, myths. Paul Gauguin, immobilized and injured as a result of one of his frequent brawls, created, in Pont Aven, a surprising group of woodcuts that bring us close to the deep terror of the Tahitian cults. With his anticonventionalism, the disconcerting artist created monotypes where no drawing is engraved into the surface of the plate that touches the printing paper.

I don’t want to go on too long with this list of facts that make up the legend, the history, the mythology of prints. It is not necessary to continue this now, since it is interminable. I only want to say that it should be enlarged. And enlarged with the event which, this year, celebrates its eighteenth edition. It is necessary that the Mini Print International enter into the legends and myths of the history of printmaking. Not in our history of printmaking: in the general history.

We must take into account that we are dealing with a private initiative. No public body or official organism promotes it: it arose out of the impulse, enthusiasm and effort of Pascual Fort, sustained and continued with the greatest efficiency by Mercedes Barberà. History: one can make much since that 1981 in which 192 artists from 33 countries participated, until this 1998 in which 816 artists from 54 countries participated. But it is better to leave history and enter into mythology. In this competition-exhibition it is the winners of the previous year that form the jury of the following year. Each moment imposes its taste and values. We continue with the mythology: the award consists of the honor of having been distinguished by the jury. There is no compensation other than contributing several works to the following year’s exhibition. It is necessary to enter into legend: as in ancient times, the artists strive to show their virtues and virtuosities.

It seems to be a competition where the muses have the last word.

Soon one will be able to tell a story, that will later be converted into legend: “All the artists of the past fifty years, starting to count from 1981, all those who have been recognized, all who have opened new windows, all those are found in the catalogs of the Mini Print, that international exhibition that began in Cadaqués and year after year continues to intrigue and astound us.”

The fact is that we are now creating this history in order for this legend to be born within a few years.

Mercedes Barberà Rusiñol
Director of the Mini Print International of Cadaques

The most important characteristic that we have noted in the 18th Mini Print International of Cadaqués is the high quality of the works presented, causing admiration not only among the artists and visiting public but also among the jury members who told us how difficult it was for them to make their choices among such beautiful and interesting prints.

The growth in collecting and in the custom of giving a miniprint as a gift to friends and family has been a constant in this version of the Mini Print, not only in Cadaqués but also in Barcelona, England and France.

As in past years, the Mini Print has travelled during May, June and July to the «Wingfield Festival of Art & Music» in England where interest in the show and the number of visitors is constantly increasing. In 1999 there will be great changes in Wingfield. We suppose that the major remodeling and adaptation of the large space available for galleries, music and lecture halls, artists residences, etc. will be terminated. The Mini Print will be a participant in this great cultural organization directed by its promoter Ian Chance. We send our best wishes for success.

In Bages, France, interest for the Mini Print has been amplified by the echo created by the French press and television of this show which fills the walls of the beautiful and welcoming gallery «L’Étangd’Art». Many French and European visitors have come to see it.

The great novelty this year has been the exhibition in the Gallery «Article 26» located near the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Schools of Barcelona. Students of the many printmaking techniques shown in the Mini Print have discovered ideas, solutions, and enthusiasm for participating in future editions of the show. Our gratitude to the Vilallongas who have so altruistically ceded their Barcelona gallery to us.

As in previous years the solo shows of the winning artists were a success and a fiesta at the same time. This year Toshimi Kitano, Marina Mayer, Lars Holstrom, Angela Rolim and A. Balasubramaniam attended their openings. Each one of them with their different forms of understanding art have enriched us with the vision of their work, the sympatthy of their words and their friendship. They all promise to return to Cadaqués some day. We hope so! The Russian artist Vladimir Basmanov was unable to attend but his prints were greatly admired.

We wish to express our gratitude to the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Spanish Government for funding part of the edition of the catalog. We are also grateful to the Generalitat of Catalunya which has supported the Mini Print by sending out the informative brochures for participation.

We don’t deny that we are frankly worried about the continuity of the Mini Print International of Cadaqués. Its financing continues to be a problem, institutional aid is insufficient and we urgently need a patron. In spite of all this we are hopeful of finding a solution and are fighting for it.

The only thing that never fails, and which fills us with joy, is the support of the participating artists and of the artists who wish to participate for the first time. This reality is what encourages us to continue with the same enthusiasm as ever and with hope until the year 2000… at least.