Richard Estes

Holland Hotel


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Not on display

Richard Estes born 1932
Screenprint on paper
Image: 1157 × 1832 mm
Purchased 1985

Catalogue entry

Richard Estes born 1932

P77083 Holland Hotel 1984

Screenprint 1157 x 1832 (45 1/2 x 72 1/8) on Vélin d'Arches paper 1180 x 1933 (46 1/2 x 76 1/8); printed by Michael Domberger at Domberger K.G., Stuttgart and published by Parasol Press, New York in an edition of 100
Inscribed ‘Richard Estes' b.r. of image and ‘12/100' b.l. of image
Purchased from Parasol Press (Grant-in-Aid) 1985
Lit: Ronny Cohen, ‘Jumbo Prints: Artists Who Paint Big Want to Print Big', Artnews, vol. 83, Oct. 1984, pp.84-5, repr. p.81 in col.

Quotations of the artist's statements are from a letter to the cataloguer postmarked 23 January 1988 unless otherwise stated.

‘Holland Hotel' is based on a painting of the same size and title made earlier in the same year (repr. Louis K. Meisel, Richard Estes: The Complete Paintings 1966-1985, New York 1986, no. 150 in col.). Both print and painting represent a view of 42nd Street, looking east from 9th Avenue, in New York. The title of the print is taken from the neon sign on the building on the extreme left of the image. Estes writes, ‘I can think of no significance in my choice of location or subject other than the fact it struck me as visually interesting. The contrasting styles of architecture, the orange late in the afternoon colors. The diagonal contruction of the shop window thrusting the perspective in different directions'.

This urban scene is rendered with the heightened realism for which Estes is well known. The artist uses photographs of particular locations as the basis of his imagery; but in his work he alters and refines the photographic images at will. ‘I can put clouds or parked cars anywhere I like', he has been quoted as saying (Meisel 1986, p.27). Attempting to give his images a sense of depth and a clarity that is not normally perceived from the fixed standpoint of either the human eye or the camera lens, he aims to create in his works ‘an organised sense of reality' (quoted in Meisel 1986, p.36). Estes' masterful control of spatial illusion is demonstrated in ‘Holland Hotel' in the intricate reflections in the shop window on the right. These show not only magnified views of buildings on the opposite side of the street (which otherwise could not be seen in such detail from the standpoint of the observer) but also part of the street scene on the viewer's side of the picture plane. Estes remembers, ‘I had to work from photos taken from slightly different positions to match the right and left views while getting a total view of the church on the left. In other words you could not actually see what is together in the print without walking about and looking in different directions'.

Estes sees screenprinting, in which layers of colour are laid on top of each other, as the form of printmaking nearest to his main medium of oil paints. ‘Screenprinting is a technique that relates more to painting', he is quoted as saying, ‘lithography is more like drawing' (Cohen 1984, p.84). In a letter to the cataloguer he noted, ‘The really principal change between the painting and print is the difference in appearance between a line that is drawn and a line that is cut'. He drew and cut a line into the paper to illustrate his point.

A detailed account of the making of this print has been given by Ronny Cohen who interviewed both the artist and the printmaker Michael Domberger:

Estes says about this print that he had ‘the same problem that I always have - trying to get things to balance'. With screenprinting, he reports, ‘you have to simplify. You can't get all the gradations of color, the subtleties you get with a brush'. Domberger explains that when printing colors one after another in a silkscreen, ‘it takes a hell of a lot of colors to get a three-dimensionsal effect'. The veteran printer went on to say that it took approximately 180 colors to make ‘Holland Hotel'. To get the right tones and colored shapes for the screens, Estes worked at Domberger's studio for two three-week stretches during the seven months it took to produce the print. Estes made the major decisions in the print concerning the adjustment of details in the forms and relationships of the buildings. The work's main technical problem was registration, the alignment of the various screens used for printing. During the first 40 color runs, the paper kept moving, making it necessary for Domberger and his staff to print first one half and then the other in order to get a register. After that, the paper, which consisted of three sheets of Arches stock mounted together, flattened out by itself, Domberger reports, so ‘we could run colors over the whole print at the same time'. For Domberger ... ‘the resulting Estes print is more than a reproduction of the painting. There's a different stroke and feeling' (Cohen 1984, pp.84-5).

This entry has been approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.328-9

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