Alfabeto Treccani

A series of 21 new limited edition works on paper

The first project by Treccani Arte is Alfabeto Treccani, a series of twenty-one new limited edition works on paper born from the collaboration with Artissima Fair. Alfabeto Treccani proposes an overview of Italian contemporary art by taking the Italian alphabet as a starting point: each of the twenty-one letters of the alphabet is represented by one artist whose last name begins with the same letter. The alphabet thus provides the occasion for a survey of Italian contemporary art through three generations of artists that confront themselves with the endless possibilities offered by techniques of artistic reproduction.

Frequently asked questions

What is an artist edition?
An artist edition is a series of identical works conceived by the artist to be produced according to the techniques and processes of industrial design and typographic or electronic printing. Artist editions are original works of art resulting from the collaboration between artist and publisher.

What is a limited edition?

Since the late XIX century artists have begun to limit the number of examples produced from the same matrix, thus creating a limited edition. Limited edition works are usually dated and numbered. Often, but not always, the artist signs each example from the edition. For instance, an edition of 100 examples will be numbered 1/100, 2/100 etc. The edition can be accompanied by a series of limited artist proofs, marked AP (artist proof), followed by Arab or Roman numerals (I/X, II/X etc.)

Artist editions are original works of art resulting from the collaboration between artist and publisher.

How can I recognize an authentic edition?
All examples from an authentic edition should be accompanied by a specific document named certificate of authenticity. This certificate indicates the name of the artist, the edition number and the name of the studio that produced the work. Some printing studios and ateliers have been active for decades and are specialized in the collaboration with artists towards the production of original artworks. The certificate of authenticity also indicates the quality of the support (of the paper, for example) and the techniques employed, often resulting from audacious experimentation.

Are editions historically relevant just like unique artworks?
Of course, editions are just as historically relevant as unique artworks. As a matter of fact, editions have been acquired by the most important museums worldwide. Editioned prints are often preserved within the department of prints and drawings, as they often share the same support. In virtue of their accessibility, editions allow us to enhance and complete modern and contemporary art collections. Additionally, many collectors chose to focus exclusively on editioned works. The artists themselves, in dealing with the means and processes typical of reproduction techniques, are stimulated to develop their work towards new directions, in dialogue with the other works created and the other media employed.

Certain printing studios are specialized in the collaboration with artists towards the production of original artworks.

What are the most frequently used printing techniques?

The art of making prints from a wooden matrix that is carved in relief. One of the most ancient techniques (used in China since the VI century), it has been known in Europe from the XII century. Since the late XIX century it has become an independent expressive medium, just like other engraving techniques. Today, similar engraving procedures employ matrices composed of different materials (gum, fiber, linoleum, etc.). A color xylography can be obtained by engraving more than one matrix – one for each tone of color – or by progressively engraving the same form (lost plate process); the various carvings and subsequent printings end with the last tone of color – the darkest one – while the previous forms are lost.

The art of making prints from a limestone matrix. The writing or drawing to be reproduced is realized with a water-repellent substance. The sharpness of its sign and the removal of all impurities is guaranteed by the action of nitric acid. A Gum Arabic solution keeps the plate humid in order to strengthen its repulsion force against the ink all around the drawing. When the edition is finished, the stone can be reused after being cleaned with pumice stone and other abrasives. Multi-color prints can be obtained with several passages, one for each color.

From the Medieval name for nitric acid (aqua fortis) – etching is the art of making prints from a metal plate engraved by the corrosive action of an acid. The plate is covered with a thin stratum of oil paint on which the words or drawings are marked with a steel tip thus exposing the metal support to the acid's action. As the acid is unable to act upon the oil stratum, it only corrodes the areas where the latter has been removed by the steel tip. The depth and intensity of the sign are directly proportional to the duration of the acid's corrosive action. The plate thus holds the ink within the engraved signs and marks the paper under the pressure of a printing press.

The art of making prints from silk or synthetic fabrics with various textures. The areas that do not have to be traversed by color are treated with glues or other waterproof substances; color, when applied to the other areas, is pressed with a rubber tool in order for it to traverse the texture of the fabric and mark the paper underneath (multi-color prints are realized with subsequent passages). This technique, which originated in China, arrived in Europe and in the United States at the beginning of the XX century for the decoration of fabrics and was later used in the production of original artworks. Photochemical processes can be employed, with the use of photosensitive varnishes; water or oil colors, synthetic inks, varnishes, enamels and fluorescent colors can also be used.

The reproduction on a stone or metal plate of matrices for the printing of text or images through photographic transfer on light-sensitive gelatin, used in the process of offset printing. The original text, according to the chosen transfer method, can be developed as negative or positive.