In the New York art world of the 1940s, Pollock, Motherwell, Rothko and Baziotes rubbed shoulders with such refugee European artists as Beckmann and Masson. This cross-fertilization gave American printmaking new subjects and points of view. Castleman plunges us into this milieu, then takes us inside Tatyana Grosman's Long Island print workshop, where the Siberian-born mentor to Rivers, Dine, Rauschenberg and Kline pushed artists to the limits of experimentation. Director of the Museum of Modern Art's prints department, Castleman shows how painters such as Warhol, Johns and Stella innovated graphic techniques. She covers Pop, Conceptual, Minimal and figurative styles in quick succession. Though the text is ponderous and the choices of art predictable, the author offers many shrewd observations on the prints reproduced in 151 color plates and halftones. She proves the debt Pollock's pictures owe to Picasso's bullfight compositions, and compares Saul Steinberg's flamboyant scribbles to graffiti art. November 11
Painters and sculptors, in today's media-saturated environment, have turned to print media as a means of making their images more available. According to Castleman, artists had to overcome their fear of technology in order to take advantage of the wider audience print media delivered. She focuses on the big-name artists and print shops that played major roles in this shift. Numerous illustrations add flesh to the somewhat disorganized historical narrative. American Impressions has a more narrow focus than its title may indicate. It provides images and text most useful to specialists and collectors. Doulas G. Campbell, Ctr. for Fine Arts, Warner Pacific Coll., Portland, Ore.