An artist who yearns for immortal fame had better not become an engraver, or any other kind of printmaker. Dürer is the only printmaker in history who reached the very top mainly by that route. (Daumier, some would argue, is another.) A few more have combined printmaking with painting. Would Rembrandt and Goya have the aura they do if their prints carried most of the claim for it? In Rembrandt’s case it is unlikely, in Goya’s a fair possibility, at least to judge by the reproductions of their works in popular books. Today, printmaking is so marginal to tastemaking that the choice hardly comes up. At the most, an artist like Robert Rauschenberg—to take one of the most favorable examples—will, when well established, look into printmaking with a lively curiosity about the technical effects the medium offers and a kindly feeling about the idea of making originals available to people other than the...


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