Film: 9207

Art + Architecture | 1980 | Sound | Colour


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Screenprinting 1980's

A film about the screen prints of Ellen Kuhn and Gerd Winner, talking about and showing the methods they employ in screen printing.

Title image shows a print of couple, possibly from the 50s in swimwear, standing in the sea. Subtitle features printed image of Al Capone.
Ellen Kuhn talks about her childhood refuge in fantasy and early Hollywood movies, which influenced her artwork. Pictures of her work based on movie characters. An early print of romantic cult hero, Valentino and a more recent print of gangster characters from movies. Ellen talks about her family background. Her immigration from Germany at the start of WW2 , first to USA and later to UK. Screen shows related artwork, photographs and paintings on this theme, featuring print of immigrants at Ellis Island, New York. She relates to other immigrants to the USA, and sees characters like Al Capone as a cult hero to immigrant groups.
Ellen demonstrates the process of creating the screen print of Al Capone, creating hand drawn stencils from an original photograph. She creates 6 stencils with which to make individual screens. One for each colour she has chosen plus a half tone screen to create detail.
Ellen explains the materials she uses to create each screen . For one she uses a hand cut stencil from a gelatinous green film which is then adhered to the screen. With the next drawing she creates a photographic stencil by exposing The next screen is a photographic stencil made by exposing photographic film with a reversed cut out image , exposed for 10-12mins. The film is hardened with dilute peroxide then washed off with water and fixed to the screen. Remaining open areas of screens are blocked out with blue filler.
Ellen demonstrates printing each screen with a different colour, working the lightest colours first. She uses clear acetate for registration, on a vacuum screen bed, using registration lays as marker stops for paper positioning.
Film shows print development for each stage to the finished first proof.
Ellen talks about the modern medium of screen print beginning in the late 40s she names Mcknight Kauffer as the earliest screen printer of this time, film shows images of his work. She talks of other printers she admires. Work of Ben Shahn is shown, representing social realism in the USA – a big influence on her own work. Rauschenberg and his work also features.

Gerd Winner talks about his prints. He shows images of vehicles representing a learning period of the technique, using sharp cut images of flat colour. These images also used areas of halftone to create tonal detail, this is a technique he still employs. His later work features architectural images, depicting urban surroundings. This interest started when he moved to his studio at St Katherines dock London. He shows prints of buildings in St Katherines way, now pulled down. He talks about the ‘functions of old buildings being readable from the outside’
Gerd came to London in 1969 to work with the printer Chris Prater. Gerd wants to create a screen print of the weathered old stone walls of Thomas More Street, ‘showing time and erosion like a human face.’ He shows a photographic sketch book to Chris Prater.
Chris Prater has developed a method of creating 3 different tonal seperations, to make a softer and more atmospheric look, as used in St Katherines way. Using a contact frame he makes different exposures to obtain different densities of the photographic image. Tonal seperations use the grain of the film to create an irregular screen as opposed to a mechanical halftone screen.
Seperations are then enlarged to correct size to make stencils for the print screens. Negative stencils are made with photosensitive film.
The background colour is chosen and printed. The film then shows Gerd Winner and Chris Prater testing subsequent colours onto the background through a corner of the screen, and choosing colours for each screen to best create a three dimensional effect. The various stages of development are shown. Overlaying the chosen colours for the tonal seperations to complete the print.
Gerd finishes by stating that the camera is a tool in the production of his work. The print is an original piece of work that started with a camera.

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