Prints and Visual Communication
288 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: July 15, 1969
- Publisher: The MIT Press
The sophistication of the photographic process has had two dramatic results—freeing the artist from the confines of journalistic reproductions and freeing the scientist from the unavoidable imprecision of the artist's prints. So released, both have prospered and produced their impressive nineteenth- and twentieth-century outputs. It is this premise that William M. Ivins, Jr., elaborates in Prints and Visual Communication, a history of printmaking from the crudest wood block, through engraving and lithography, to Talbot's discovery of the negative-positive photographic process and its far reaching consequences.
This is the first book that unequivocally declares and historically supports the dignity, the force, and the validity of the printed picture as a basic form of communication in all forms of the repeatable image, whether woodcut, photograph or photographic reproduction. Distinguished by wit and forthrightness, it is a lively illustrated survey of the search for methods of reproduction to give the visual image the flexibility that the language of words achieved through the printer's press.... Rarely does a technical work have authority coupled with imagination and readibility. Mr. Ivins' book exhibits both these qualities. Through the deeply sensitive pen of this scholar the visual image joins the sight and sound of words to take a place in the stream of human communication.
Romana Javitz, Picturescope
William Ivins has made a more thorough analysis of the esthetic effects of prints and typography on our human habits of perception than anybody else.... He not only notes the ingraining of lineal, sequential habits, but, even more important, points out the visual homogenizing of experience in print culture, and the relegation of auditory and other sensuous complexity to the background.