What is a lithograph?

A planographic printing technique developed around 1796, lithography involves printing a design is drawn directly on a stone.

The lithographic process relies on the mutually repelling qualities of oil and water. An image is drawn with a greasy substance onto the smooth surface of a limestone. The stone is then treated with acid so that the sections not covered by the design—acid-resistant due to the grease—are etched. The stone is then moistened, the oil-based design repelling the water whilst the etched sections retain it. An oil-based ink is then applied, which adheres only to the original drawing to be printed. For examples of lithographs have a look at Eric Fischl’s CAC, 2009, Antoni Tàpies’ Llambrec 8, 1975 or Philip Guston’s Remains, 1980.

Glossary of prints and editions