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AMERICAN PRINTMAKING

Printmaking in Latin America seems to be closely connected to its very turbulent history. Until the 19th century, printmaking is a poor art exclusively imported from Europe, although during the end of the colonial rule lithography is spreading. The liberation struggle, the battles for democracy and the first militant movements for equality between indigenous people and settlers influence printmaking which, with poor means, is often militating for fairer regime. In the 20th century, along with works influenced by the aesthetic movements of the United States, an important, purely local, realistic current of militant artists who are also expressing themselves through printmaking, serves the political ideals for which they are fighting.

The important Mexican school, after Jose Posada, remains a popular school in the first half of the 20th century, with leading artists such as Leopoldo Mendez, with woodcuts, linocuts and lithographs, and Adolfo Mexiac, with woodcuts and linocuts. These two militant artists serve the people with realism. Contemporary printmaking is characterised by the double traditional popular trend towards expressionism and surrealism while the themes are taken from the local turbulent history, the oppression of indigenous people and the repeated struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights. A printmaking that expresses its concerns and is experimenting with its subjects and techniques, using irony, symbols and imagination.

In the United States, printmaking has an impressive development. Mainly commercial – illustration of magazines, reproduction of paintings glorifying the history of the new State – in the 19th century, with wood engravings, intaglio prints and lithographs, it acquires towards the end of the century an artistic identity with landscapes, lithographed or etched with an impressio- nistic trend. As from the 20th century, and in particular after World War II, the USA becomes a melting pot of authentic creativity, with countless printmakers experimenting first in lithography and intaglio printing and then in screen printing – with the artists of Pop Art – and in digital art.