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Tales of Genji
Kenneth Tyler recalled that with the Tales of Genji, a series of six woodcut prints that Frankenthaler began in 1995: ‘It was apparent from the beginning that what was needed was a new approach and technique for making what Helen strove for: a woodcut with painterly resonance’. Tyler suggested to Frankenthaler that she communicate what she wanted to the workshop printers by painting onto six pieces of wood.
Yasuyuki Shibata, a Japanese carver trained in the traditional technique of ukiyo-e, was employed to carve woodblocks after the six paintings that Frankenthaler produced. Handmade paper was also skilfully created to resemble the wood grain look and texture of the original paintings. In order to transpose the lush, transparent washes of colour that Frankenthaler had painted into print, the technicians at Tyler Graphics had to work fast, with wet sheets of paper and inks that were forced to bleed and blend into one another. It was only through trial and error that the workshop gradually overcame these technical difficulties.
Despite a leap into the creative unknown, the six resulting images are extraordinary prints. The Tales of Genji, which took the artist and the workshop three years to complete, is perhaps the greatest achievement in experimental print collaboration between Frankenthaler and Tyler.
Animation of printing sequence
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