Silverpoint and Metalpoint Drawing
A Complete Guide to the Medium
Silverpoint, and metalpoint more generally, is the practice of marking with soft metal on a specifically prepared drawing surface. Practiced for centuries, the artform is experiencing a resurgence in recent years, with contemporary work exploring abstract as well as realist, conceptual as well as traditional.
Silverpoint and Metalpoint Drawing is the essential manual of metalpoint technique, written by Susan Schwalb and Tom Mazzullo, contemporary masters of the medium. This book is the first treatise on the subject for artists and art teachers with chapters on early history, materials including grounds, supports, metals, and tools, techniques for working in metalpoint as well as mixed media, and finally, the care of metalpoint works. Not only beautifully illustrated, this book also demonstrates how to photograph and exhibit metalpoint art. Featuring a gallery of drawings by contemporary artists, along with their tips and insight, Silverpoint and Metalpoint Drawing is a perfect introduction for students of the medium and an inspiration for those already more familiar with it.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Bruce Weber
Preface: Why Metalpoint Now?
Introduction: What is Silverpoint and Metalpoint?
Chapter 1: The History of Metalpoint As a Drawing Technique
by Thea Burns
Chapter 2: Tools, Metals, and Tarnishing
Chapter 3: Grounds, Preparation, and Supports
Chapter 4: Drawing with Metalpoint
Chapter 5: Mixed Media
by Carol Prusa
Chapter 6: Storing, Framing, Photographing, and Shipping Metalpoint Work
Chapter 7: Contemporary Metalpoint Drawing
Susan Schwalb is one of the foremost figures in the current silverpoint revival. She was born in New York City in 1944 and studied at Carnegie-Mellon University. She has had over 50 solo exhibitions in galleries and museums world-wide, and her work is represented in most major public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the British Museum, London. Schwalb was one of only three living artists included in the historical metalpoint exhibition Drawing with Silver and Gold: From Leonardo to Jasper Johns at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. She lives in New York City.
Tom Mazzullo was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1968, and attended Tyler School of Art, where he was awarded a BFA in Printmaking in 1990. He earned an MFA from Syracuse University in 1993 and has taught drawing at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, the University of Denver and the Art Students League of Denver, and he has lectured and demonstrated silverpoint all over the country. He has exhibited his silverpoint drawings in museums and galleries nationwide, has work in several notable collections, and is a member of Spark Gallery, Denver. He lives in Westminster, Colorado.
The writings of Italian Renaissance artists such as Cennino Cennini, Michelangelo and Giorgio Vasari are an incredibly valuable and insightful resource for scholars in the field because of their hands-on practical experience of the making of art which no amount of library study can replicate. The same holds true today and I have learned a huge amount from looking at drawing, both old and new, with artists as they frequently have a profound granular knowledge of artistic process and thinking. There is no better example of the timelessness of drawing than metalpoint as, in contrast to all the other graphic techniques, it has changed the least from the 14thcentury to today which means anyone tempted to pick up a stylus faces the same challenges in using it successfully as those confronted by a workshop assistant in Renaissance Florence. But now they do have an advantage over their 15th-century counterpart thanks to this guide written by two vastly experienced metalpoint practitioners, Tom Mazzullo and Susan Schwalb. I could not think of better or more encouraging mentors to encourage artists, as well as scholars, to explore and experiment with metalpoint drawing.
Hugo Chapman, The British Museum
What a great book about Silverpoint and Metalpoint drawing!
Every once in a while a book about art rises to the top of the list. This one, Silverpoint and Metalpoint Drawing: A Complete Guide to the Medium, does exactly that.
Are you an art lover, art historian, art teacher, artist or just curious? Here, at last, is a long sought after definitive reference on Silverpoint and Metalpoint. The book is not only about the little known history of the art and Old Masters’ techniques but also those of contemporary artists’ concepts. It is replete with helpful information, "how to" photos, and an array of elegant images demonstrating the beauty, range and possibilities of the medium. Also included is a comprehensive bibliography and list of sources for supplies enabling readers to explore the medium themselves.
This is the ultimate book about Metalpoint.
I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Sherry Camhy, New York University
Silverpoint and Metalpoint Drawing: A Complete Guide to the Medium is, indeed, the most complete and useful work ever written on drawing in metalpoint. Three distinguished practitioners clarify all artists need to know to get started or advance their work in metalpoint. The book also addresses how to handle, display, and store metalpoints. And it is a vital resource not only for artists but for teachers, conservators, collectors, scholars, and appreciators – anyone who wants to understand and enjoy metalpoint drawings.
Ann Prentice Wagner, Arkansas Arts Center
Any artist who is considering trying their hand at this fascinating technique, whether in a traditional or experimental mode, will benefit tremendously from the wealth of technical details the authors include. With such an extensive selection of examples, and strong historical overview, It's hard to imagine a more comprehensive treatment of metalpoint.
Clayton Merrell, Carnegie Mellon University
Great Renaissance masters like Raphael and Albrecht Dürer drew with metalpoint on prepared papers, the technique underwent something of a revival in the 19th century, and now contemporary artists are turning to this glistening medium once again. In Silverpoint and Metalpoint Drawing you are in the practiced hands of two contemporary masters of the medium Susan Schwalb and Tom Mazzullo who, with a unique understanding of the technique teach it step by step, from creating fine lines with a stylus to subtle tones with metal wool pads and wire brushes. They take you through the entire process from preparing the paper to photographing and framing the finished piece. This book, full of the insight that comes with experience, will be a valuable tool for both artists and historians of the medium.
Nadine M. Orenstein, The Metropolitan Museum of Art