ISABEL BISHOP (1902—1988) ranks among the great figures in American art history. Her drawings, prints and paintings are critically acclaimed, and collected at the highest level.
Bishop’s late work (roughly 1960 onward), primarily addresses her fascination with pedestrian movement. But his etching, Bishop’s last, harks back to her lunch counter women of the 1950s.
For Bishop, etching was a way of “testing” her drawing ideas, to see if they held up in a more austere medium. If satisfied, she would enlarge the etchings onto panel for further development in the language of painting. Many of her etchings are precise blueprints for multiple, large paintings. (Bishop was dismayed that some contemporary critics heaped attention and praise on her drawings and prints, at the expense of her paintings.)
Some artists print their own work, and some entrust the task to other experts. Bishop printed proofs throughout much of her lifetime, often in tiny quantities. However, many of the plates were not editioned until the 1980s, then by master printer Stephen Sholinsky, whose embossed chop appears at the lower right corner of the sheet.