TAMARIND TOUCHSTONES: FABULOUS AT FIFTY, Celebrating Excellence in Fine Art Lithography by Marjorie Devon. U. of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM; unmpress.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. 2010. 190+x pages. $29.95 trade paper, 8-1/2″ x 10-1/2″, ISBN 978-0-8263-4739-8. color illustrations, resources, notes.
The Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was founded in 1960 by June Wayne to raise lithography’s stature among the visual arts by offering artists a place, supplies and presses, and an encouraging environment for lithography and also serve as a center for developing new markets for lithography. Despite a long tradition approaching 200 years and lithography works by artists such as Goya, Delacroix, and Picasso, among many others, lithography never did become recognized as one of the top art mediums outside of painting which was in a class by itself. Wayne’s project did accomplish its goals as interest in and gallery and auction prices for lithography in today’s art market testify.
Ed Ruscha, Jim Dine, Kiki Smith, Philip Guston, Louise Nevelson, Jasper Johns, and Helen Frankenthaler were among leading American artists attracted to the workshop. Color plates of lithography works of theirs appear in the nearly 100 pages of illustrations with works by other major artists and skilled, imaginative works by lesser-knowns. Resources at the back of the book–of special interest to art collectors and historians–list all the artists “who created lithographs or monotypes at Tamarind Lithography Workshop” from 1960 to 1970; at the Tamarind Institute connected with the U. of New Mexico between 1970 and 1998; and artists who have worked at the Tamarind Institute (but did not create art works there) from 1998 to 2009. Among this latter group were artists who worked as printers, were artists-in-residence on a fellowship, were staff members, and did other similar work. Following this list is a listing of Tamarind Master Printers with illustrations of their printer marks; followed in turn by a listing of Printer Training Participants with illustrations of their marks where applicable.
The key role of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in promoting lithography is not widely known–a lapse in the history of American art this work remedies. Essays with varied content followed by many pages of diverse lithography works and reference back matter cover the ambition, the high standards, important administrators, association with top artists, and accomplishments of the incomparable, influential Workshop. It is not too much to say that without Tamarind, it is difficult to imagine how lithography would enjoy the favorable status it does today in art markets and among art lovers and collectors.