The astonishing success of Two Palms over the past 20-years rests on its ability to utilize thrilling new mediums and technologies while adhering to the traditional and in some cases labor-intensive methods of printmaking—the very methods which make the whole process so wondrous and intoxicating. This latest exhibition at Contemporary Fine Arts in Berlin brings together some of the greatest works made by Two Palms, featuring such artists as Mel Bochner, Cecily Brown, Peter Doig, and Richard Prince.
Having exhibited this year at Art Basel, it was decided that instead of just returning the work back to New York, a curated group show would take place at CFA in Berlin. With a stellar array of artists on show, The Frankfurter Allgemeine journalist Kolja Reichert has written about the delightful charm of the exhibition, believing its organisation to be not solely based on aesthetic considerations, but on the “exotic side of artistic print production.”
An entire room of the show is dedicated to the silkscreened collages and his pigment prints of the highly-controversial and groundbreaking artist Richard Prince. It is indicative of the ambition and professionalism of Two Palms that their level of perfection is to such a high degree that the artist himself is unable to differentiate between his original collages and the limited editions. The exhibition also features Richard Prince’s Untitled Girlfriend (Jerry’s Girl), 2013—which combines all 57 of Jerry Seinfeld’s TV girlfriends into a single portrait—a shocking and hilarious take on American ideals of beauty. The notoriously fickle Jerry Seinfeld would never stay with any of his girlfriends for long, their transience was as predictable as the generic features on the white, hopeful face staring back at us from his pigment print.
The prestigious Contemporary Fine Arts gallery is keen to align themselves with Two Palms who have been at the forefront of a print revival since the start of the millennium. Founded in New York by David and Evelyn Lasry in Broadway, New York the workshop is state of the art, enabling the artists to follow their own unique vision, no matter how demanding that may be. Two Palms are renowned for only working with a highly select roster of artists to ensure a focused and intense collaboration—striving to get under the “skin of the artist” to find potentialities the artist may not otherwise have realised were there.
One of the highlights of the exhibition stems from the New York painter Chuck Close who, alongside Two Palms, has revived Woodburytypes—an obscure 19th century printmaking medium. Employing a dichromated gelatin which, when exposed to light, produces an image in relief which is then used to form a second relief in lead. The process took over a decade to refine but the resultant works are unsurpassed for tonal rendition, for the finery of its shadow and the “supple surface relief texture and permanence in the prints.” The technique can be seen in the image above depicting Chuck Closes’ fabulously laid back images of the president, the exhibition also includes other well known modern icons such as Brad Pitt, Willem Dafoe, and Kate Moss.
Also on view are works from the conceptual art pioneer Mel Bochner whose two large-format word images spell out in clear capital letters BLAH BLAH BLAH and HA HA HA, both pictured. The letters have actually been cut out of the printing plate so that they project as a relief from the acrylic, the printing process only enhancing the beautiful and spontaneous mixing of the colors.
Two Palms at Contemporary Fine Arts runs from the 25th of June through to the 10th of September 2016.