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With nearly 25 years in the books, Two Palms has worked with many prominent names in modern art like Sol Lewitt, Kiki Smith, Jeff Koons, and Dana Schutz, helping them add quality prints to their repertoire of work. While the SoHo-based studio utilizes the more common methods of printmaking like monoprints, monotypes, and silkscreening, Two Palms takes pride in experimenting with more unique and unconventional methods—including the nearly-extinct Woodburytype technique.
To learn more about the studio, Woodburytype, and the printmaking world, Whitewall spoke with the co-owner of Two Palms, Evelyn Lasry.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us about the beginning and early days of Two Palms?
EVELYN LASRY: My husband, David Lasry, founded Two Palms in 1994 with one hydraulic press. He received an MFA at Yale and was drawn to the collaborative nature of printmaking more than the solitary work of an artist, and decided to open a print studio.
The hydraulic press was being delivered to our first location on Varick Street when Mel Bochner, who was one of David’s professors at Yale, walked by. Mel saw the press, spoke with David about the studio he was setting up, and he became Two Palms’ first artist.
I joined the team in 2001 after a decade-long career at Ferragamo. By then, we were lucky to be working with many talented, venerable artists like Cecily Brown, Chuck Close, Kiki Smith, Carroll Dunham, Terry Winters, and Sol Lewitt. Those artists recommended us to other artists and from there we were able to grow our roster mostly by word-of-mouth.
WW: Two Palms still uses the Woodburytype technique for printmaking. How does this compare to the techniques more commonly used in modern day printing and why did you choose to continue using the method?
EL: Walter Woodbury developed the Woodburytype in 1864. When we made our first Woodburytypes in 2012, the technique had become a holy grail of printmaking because no one could figure out how to make one. Seeing as this technique had not been employed since the 1800s, there were no relevant modern-day instructions. But the payoff is huge. We now know how to make prints that almost no one else in the world has the ability to make. Not to mention, this process has never been surpassed—in its tonal rendition, the liquid-like delicacy of its shadows and highlights, its supple surface relief texture, and permanence in the prints.
The Woodburytype Chuck Close made with us of Barack Obama is the first Woodburytype of an American President since Hessler & Ayer’s Woodburytype portrait of Abraham Lincoln, printed in 1881.
WW: In addition to the Woodburytype, which methods do you use?
EL: We produce a lot of monotypes and monoprints, which most people do not realize are unique works. We also publish etchings, silkscreens, sculpture multiples, really any kind of print you can imagine.
We see it as our role to help artists find new ways to make their work and to innovate beyond traditional printmaking methods. My husband, David, was never trained as a printmaker so he has always been inclined to try things from out of the left field.
A project we did with Matthew Barney is a great example. The project took three years to resolve because the complications were immense: Woodburytypes are made of gelatin which melts at 70 degrees, but electroplating nickel is performed around 140 degrees. As you can imagine, we melted a lot of Woodburytypes! We had to invent new cold-electroforming solutions, which we kept refrigerated at 50 degrees. Our etching room looked like a meth lab from Breaking Bad, but the end result is really a remarkable object!
WW: Would you say that prints are the way to go for an aspiring collector who might not be able to afford purchasing original works?
EL: Prints are a great way for anyone to begin collecting. Many people come to us because they know they like the work of Elizabeth Peyton or Mel Bochner but they are not ready to commit a couple hundred thousand dollars for a painting. It’s more attainable to acquire an editioned etching or silkscreen, or a unique monotype or monoprint.
I think something to keep in mind when beginning to collect prints is that when you are buying a fine art print, you’re not buying a reproduction. You are acquiring a piece that is a part of an artist’s overall body work.
I recommend that anyone who is interested in prints try to visit a print studio and learn about the medium. The print world is fascinating.
WW: Do you collect art yourself?
EL: Of course! My husband and I try to buy something from the International Fine Art Print Fair in New York every year. We have amassed a small collection of etchings from old and modern masters like Picasso, Matisse and Durer. We also collect postcards from Sol Lewitt, who used to make little drawings on postcards and send them to friends to say “Happy New Year,” “Happy Birthday,” or “Thank You”—really anything. They’re such special little objects. And, of course, we have prints from all of the artists who have made work in our studio.
WW: Do you have any projects this fall you could share with us?
EL: There is so much happening in the studio right now that we are excited about. We are researching and developing new projects with Matthew Barney, Philippe Parreno, and Jeff Koons. We have a new artist to Two Palms, Nona Faustine Simmons, who is in the early stages of a silkscreen project. We will be debuting new works from Terry Winters, Elizabeth Peyton and David Row at the International Fine Art Print Fair in NYC in October, and new works from Mel Bochner and (fingers crossed) silkscreens from Nona Faustine Simmons at Art Basel Miami Beach in December.