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Jim Dine: The Glyptotek Drawings Online Exhibition | Thaw Conservation Center
Jim Dine: Drawing with Light
Read more: Intro | Translucent vs. Opaque | Building up the Layers | Putting Light into the Drawings | Drawings to Printing Plates | Glossary | Sources
Drawings to Printing Plates
: Glyptotek Drawing
 on the left with the corresponding heliogravure print on the
Before starting the Glyptotek Drawings, Dine contacted master printer Kurt Zein in Vienna to determine what process would be used to transform his drawings into prints. This would be the first formal project Dine and Zein worked on together. Together, they decided that creating heliogravures, using the drawings as the positive transparencies, would best capture the subtle nuances of the drawings that Dine planned to make. This discussion, thus, guided Dine's material choices as described above.
Once Dine completed all forty drawings, he turned them over to Zein to have them transferred to copper printing plates and printed on Zerkall LITHO white mould-made printmaking paper. Heliogravure is an intaglio printmaking process, which traditionally uses light in combination with a continuous tone photographic film positive transparency to create an acid-resistant gelatin ground for transfer onto a copper printing plate. To create this ground, the transparency is placed over a photosensitive layer of gelatin and exposed to an ultraviolet-containing light source. Areas of the gelatin that are exposed to light are hardened in proportion to the amount of light that penetrates the transparency, making these areas of gelatin less soluble and more acid resistant. This gelatin layer is then bonded to a plate prepared with an aquatint grain. The plate is then placed in a series of ferric chloride solutions used to etch the surface of the copper and transfer the image from the transparency to the printing plate.
In the case of the prints seen in Glyptotek, the Glyptotek Drawings were used in place of the photographic film positive transparency. Heliogravures made in this manner are often referred to as direct gravures vi, as the step in which the drawing would be photographed to make a positive transparency is eliminated, making the process more direct. To obtain printed images that were the sharpest and most precise representations of Dine's drawings, the drawings were placed face down on top of the gelatin layer. As a result, the heliogravure prints are exact replicas of the drawings, except that they are mirror images of one another (figure 14). It is important to note that a small number of the prints are not exact replicas, as Dine sometimes worked in drypoint directly on the printing plates to make minor adjustments. Still, the prints are primarily considered heliogravures.
Drawings as Positive Transparencies
The Glyptotek Drawings are an instance in which the ultimate goal of creating a book of prints guided the artist's materials and techniques. Using materials that were readily available and relying on his intuition from years of working with drawing, painting, and printmaking materials, Dine was able to adapt his working methods to this new challenge. The catalog for the first exhibition that included these heliogravure prints, Jim Dine: Youth and the Maiden and Related Works, at the Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, 1989, stated that the drawings were destroyed when the images were transferred to the printing plates. The drawings subsequently surfaced in the 1990 exhibition Jim Dine: Glyptotek Drawings at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, revealing that in the end Dine created two works of art: the printed images in Glyptotek, and a series of forty drawings that, besides their intended intermediary printmaking function, make up the finished work of art Glyptotek Drawings.
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