A Lifetime of Printmaking
Anthony Kirk, Master Printer
It is hard to overstate the extent of Anthony Kirk’s knowledge and expertise in the field of printmaking. With more than four decades of experience printing intaglio and relief editions, Kirk has collaborated with leading artists including Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Indiana, Wolf Kahn, Armin Landeck, Joan Mitchell, James Rosenquist, Kiki Smith, Frank Stella, and Donald Sultan. In addition to tenures at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop and Tyler Graphics Ltd., Kirk has shared his skills widely through teaching appointments at Bard College, Boston University, Parsons School of Design, and Pratt Graphics Center, to name just a few.
"This ancient technology still holds currency for the contemporary artist and I have never lost my enthusiasm for sharing my passion for the medium."
Born in Scotland, Kirk received his MFA in Printmaking at the Chelsea School of Art in London. He moved to New York in 1974, where he soon became an apprentice to Robert Blackburn. Celebrated for attracting a diverse and international crowd of artists, Blackburn’s workshop provided Kirk with the opportunity to engage and learn with a vibrant community of artists. In 1988, Kirk was invited by Kenneth Tyler to lead the etching department at Tyler Graphics Ltd., where he developed strong work relationships with Frank Stella, Helen Frankenthaler, and others. Kirk began teaching at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Connecticut in 1995 and, upon the closure of Tyler Graphics in 2000, became the center’s artistic director and Master Printer until 2013. In addition to leading CCP, Kirk launched Anthony Kirk Editions in North Salem, New York, in 2000. Not only does he continue to print, Kirk has also curated shows in the space, such as the critically lauded Five Scottish Print Studios.
For Kirk, a primary draw to printmaking is its endurance as an art form: “When I speak publicly about my life as a master printer,” he says, “I usually start a lecture by removing from my pocket a small copper plate covered with a hard ground wax coating and telling the audience that if Rembrandt, Goya, Piranesi or Dürer were to come alive before me now they would each recognize what I am holding, and then they would ask me for etching needles and acid. This ancient technology still holds currency for the contemporary artist and I have never lost my enthusiasm for sharing my passion for the medium.”
Born in Germany, Wolf Kahn immigrated to the United States in 1940 and attended the High School of Music & Art in New York before joining the Navy. Thanks to the GI Bill, after his time in the military he was able to study with renowned Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann and would later become Hofmann’s studio assistant. Khan then attended the University of Chicago, graduating in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and promptly dedicating himself to becoming a full-time artist. He and several of Hofmann’s other students established a cooperative gallery, Hansa Gallery, where Kahn held his first public exhibition. It was not long before he joined Grace Borgenicht Gallery in 1956, where he exhibited regularly until 1995.
Khan and his wife, painter Emily Mason, married in 1957 and traveled extensively in addition to maintaining a farm in Vermont where they spent the summer and fall every year. The myriad of locales he visited—from Egypt to Greece, Italy to Kenya—inspired his unique and colorful landscape paintings that reflected a fusion of disparate influences: Hans Hofmann’s abstraction, Matisse’s palette, Rothko’s application of color, and American Impressionist atmosphere. Khan was the recipient of many prestigious awards including a Fulbright Scholarship, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, an Award in Art from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Medal of Arts from the U.S. State Department. His work was, and continues to be, exhibited at galleries and museums across the country and can be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among many others.
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