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Etching is a process where an artist uses an etching needle to draw on wax which is then placed on a metal plate. Once the wax is removed the plate is placed into an acid bath. The area where the lines were are leave the metal exposed and the time the plate is submerged in the acid bath determines the depth of the lines. Once the plate has been submerged to the desired depth, ink is applied to the lines. The plate is then pressed on paper and a print is made.
Two etchings that are particularly interesting are Loulou Distracted by French artist Henri Matisse and Italian artist Giovanni Tiepolo’s A Negro. Matisse’s Loulou Distracted is an etching of a woman wearing a hat staring out as if her attention is diverted from the subject at hand. Her eyes are not well defined and that is how Matisse achieved this affect. There are few lines on the etching leaving only on outline of the woman, but the effect allows the human eye to fill in the rest of her face.
This technique is exciting because the viewer is very much a part of the etching. Tiepolo’s A Negro is quite different than Matisse’s Loulou Distracted. Tiepolo worked on his etchings during the late seventeen hundreds while Matisse experimented with etching between his paintings during the period of nineteen hundred and nineteen fifty-four. This difference in artistic periods accounts for the differences of style.
While Loulou Distracted is simple and sparse, A Negro is rich and complex. A Negro is has many different variations of lines and is quite detailed. It is obvious to the viewer what is background, clothing and human. This allows the viewer to fully experience the artist’s vantage point of the subject.
Delahunt, M. (1996-2008). Artlex. Retrieved April 9, 2008 from http://www. artlex. com Matisse, H. (1914). Loulou Distracted. Tiepolo, G. (1770). A Negro.