Freud’s Smoke is a screenprint made at Gresham Studio in Cambridge, under the supervision of printer Kip Gresham. Gresham Studio is a fine art printmaking studio dedicated to collaborative printmaking with artists and specialising in screenprinting and etching. Freud’s Smoke was published in an edition of one hundred with twenty-nine proofs by the Freud Museum, London as part of the portfolio The Freud Museum Tenth Anniversary Portfolio; Tate’s copy is number sixty-nine in the edition. It is signed by the artist and numbered in the lower right corner. The Freud Museum has a history of collaboration with contemporary artists. This portfolio was published to mark the museum’s tenth anniversary in 1996 and as a way of raising funds for its exhibition and research programmes. Ten artists including Caulfield contributed prints, the others being Prunella Clough (1919–99), Claes Oldenburg (born 1929), Susan Hiller (born 1940), Alison Watt (born 1965), Paul Wunderlich (born 1927), Cornelia Parker (born 1956), Peter Blake (born 1932), Joseph Kosuth (born 1945) and Matthew Hilton (born 1948).
Freud’s Smoke depicts smoke rising from a cigar which floats in front of a curvilinear yellow shape against a bright red background. There is some naturalistic detail in the way the cigar itself is depicted, with its red label and lines to indicate the rolled tobacco leaves; in contrast, the smoke is rendered in a near-abstract way, in alternating red and black plumes. There is no sign of the smoker, or any hint of the setting in which the cigar is being smoked.
On being commissioned by the Freud Museum to make a print to celebrate the impact on the visual arts of the great founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), Caulfield chose to represent him simply by his ubiquitous cigar. (A heavy smoker of cigars, Freud was rarely photographed without one in his hand.) As with many of Caulfield’s works, in Freud’s Smoke the still life object serves as a stand-in for the human subject. Although not a smoker himself, Caulfield frequently chose smoking materials, especially pipes, as his subject matter. (See, for example, Grey Pipe 1981, P79183.) Like the pipe, the cigar is an emblem of masculinity, as Caulfield acknowledged to Marco Livingstone in 1980:
I suppose I’ve used one or two images which have appeared in Cubist paintings without them being done in the Cubist manner, such as the pipe. I suppose the bottle and glass are equivalent in that way. You can think of them in various ways. The bottle is a very female form, and the pipe is a very masculine symbol. I don’t know if that’s one reason why they’re interesting, but they do say a lot, really. They’re like ready-made suggestions of life.
(Quoted in Livingstone, p.21, note 9.)
Patrick Caulfield made his first print, Ruins (P04076), in 1964 at Kelpra Studio, the fine art print workshop established by master printer Chris Prater in the late 1950s. Having chosen the medium of screenprinting for its ability to create immaculately flat areas of bright, saturated colour, Caulfield continued to collaborate with Prater and, from the late 1960s, with Chris Betambeau and later Bob Saich at Advanced Graphics. He produced prints regularly throughout his career, until 1999 when he made Les Demoiselles d’Avignon vues de Derrière (P78309), an homage to Pablo Picasso’s great painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907, collection Museum of Modern Art, New York). For Caulfield, printmaking was a parallel activity to his painting, allowing him to explore the same subject matter and artistic concerns:
Because I’m such a slow producer of paintings, I regard printmaking as a way of extending the kind of imagery that concerns me, because of its multiplication in editions. I don’t think of a print as very different to a painting, because I make a painting for each print in more or less detail. I’m not really a printmaker at all. I provide an image and then it’s printed by professional printers. It’s a relief to see this work under way.
(Quoted in Livingstone, p.31.)
Marco Livingstone, Patrick Caulfield: Paintings, London 2005.
Mel Gooding, Patrick Caulfield: The Complete Prints 1964-1999, Alan Cristea Gallery, London 1999, reproduced no.88.