Peter Green: The Workmanship of Uncertainty
Published Spring 2016
Written by Nathaniel Hepburn
St Jude’s are pleased to be publishing the first major work on the printmaker Peter Green under our Random Spectacular imprint. Find out more
In the early 1960s the director of London Graphics Arts (also known as The London Arts Group), Eugene Schuster, recruited Peter who joined an impressive list of young printmakers including Trevor Allen, Harvey Daniels, Derrick Greaves, Ronald King, Frank Martin, Brian Perrin, Brian Rice and Ian Tyson.
London Graphic Arts primarily published large coloured prints for sale to the corporate market - hotels, offices, universities and public buildings - across Europe and North America. Schuster held an extensive range of prints by European Modern masters (including Picasso and Matisse) but commissioned new editions, or part editions, from young contemporary artists for placing primarily in public buildings. He developed the concept of publishing editions and paid most of the artists a monthly retainer.
Green remembers “I think I was paid around £25-£30 a month (not as much as the artists at Alecto!) but a significant sum for that period. We normally produced one or two editions per month at the peak - most of the editions were of 20 prints.”
Green would produce a number of large plywood block prints, printed without a press, with most of the colour being applied directly using paper stencils - a method that the artist uses to this day.
Initially with good marketing, particularly in the States, the gallery flourished and for several years there was a regular and growing demand for new editions. However, by the late sixties and early 1970s demand began to slow. The gallery closed and the operation was much reduced by 1975. Shortly afterwards the London wing of this American based organisation was wound up.
There is no doubt that for about five years in the mid to late sixties LGA made a significant contribution to the development of printmaking in the UK. Schuster followed (and probably built on) the pioneering work of people such as Robert Erskine at Editions Alecto and Michael Cheese at Zwemmer Gallery with his 'new editions' exhibitions. With commercial expertise he built on these developments and exploited the growing interest in original and affordable prints in the 1960s.
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