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The practice of printing or stamping images onto paper is much more than six hundred years old. The Chinese were inking raised lines cut in wood and impressing them onto paper as early as the seventeenth century, and historians in the West have argued that the essential sculptural elements of traditional printmaking are as old as civilization. The practice of printmaking in the West, however, began in earnest only around 1400, coinciding with the introduction in Europe of technology for making paper and an early modern demand for large numbers of readily produced images used for both leisure and devotional activities.
Historically, the nature of the print as a multiple has been its most powerful characteristic. As a conveyor of information in exactly repeatable pictorial statements, the printed image has played a significant role in technological, scientific, and cultural developments. Since artists could promote their work in a much expanded marketplace by making prints themselves, or commissioning others to do so, printmaking quickly became a medium of substantive expression in the world of art. The growth and development of printmaking techniques, including the interactions between artist and printer as well as between fine and decorative arts, have resulted in a multiplicity of expressive possibilities.”
– Excerpts from, David Platzker and Elizabeth Wyckoff, Hard Pressed: 600 Years of Prints and Processes (New York: Hudson Hills Press, in association with International Print Center New York, 2000).