Invention and Revival: The Colour Drypoints of David Milne and John Hartman
Curated by Rosemarie Tovell
17 November 2008 – 08 February 2009
In 1980, Rosemarie Tovell curated for the National Gallery of Canada an exhibition called Reflections in a Quiet Pool: The Prints of David Milne, which explored Milne’s invention of the multiple-plate colour drypoint. The drypoint is the simplest of printmaking techniques. Lines are scratched into copper or zinc plates, creating a residual metal “burr” that later catches the ink, creating soft lines that are more akin to drawing than to the finely detailed lines of etching or engraving, which resemble those made with pen and ink.
Milne exploited his invention to gorgeous effect but despite (and in fact because of) his mastery of it, other artists did not follow suit. John Hartman visited Reflections in a Quiet Pool and later contacted Tovell to examine with her many of Milne’s drypoints in the National Gallery’s collection. Hartman was inspired to take up the technique and has, since the mid-1980s, produced a remarkable body of prints that shares much in common with Milne’s oeuvre, in aesthetic, geographic, and spiritual terms.
Invention and Revival brings together 42 prints by Milne and Hartman, loaned by Hartman, the National Gallery and by private collectors, in order to explore the affinities between the two artists. The exhibition concludes with Hartman’s recent and spectacular Cities prints, which demonstrate his continuing drive to push the limits of the drypoint technique. The exhibition is accompanied by a major hardcover catalogue with essays by Tovell and Anne-Marie Ninacs, and a conversation on colour drypoints between Hartman and David Milne Jr.
Rosemarie Tovell is a former curator of prints and drawings at the National Gallery of Canada, and a leading authority on David Milne’s work. She curated two Milne exhibitions for the National Gallery, David Milne: Painting Place (1976) and Reflections in a Quiet Pool: The Prints of David Milne (1980).