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Abstraction, or the freedom of subject matter from the representational, was a key element of Cubism, Suprematism, Constructivism, and other movements of the early 20th century.
In the German Bauhaus, Wassily Kandinsky created abstract lithographs based on ideas of spirituality in color and inspiration in music. Pioneering Cubist George Braque continued his experimentation with abstraction in color lithography, enjoying the process of creation almost as much as the finished result. In the mid-1940s and 50s, Jackson Pollock experimented with his abstract expressionist style through screenprinting and etching.
Reacting against the fluid gesture of abstract expressionism, 1960s artists created hard edge abstract prints. Screenprinting was an especially suitable medium for artists to create abstract works due to the layering and transferring integral to the technique. In the later 20 century, artists began to explore reproduction, appropriation, and hybridization as elements of their fine prints, making full use of the forgiving nature of the medium.
Jackson Pollock created his first etchings at Stanley William Hayter's Atelier 17. He worked after hours to avoid the attention others, and drew directly onto the plate into the wax ground without the help of preparatory drawings
Atelier 17 was a great supporter of female printmakers; notable artists such as Louise Nevelson, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler experimented with abstract techniques in engraving and lithography in the studio
Similar to the loose abstract style of her soak and stain canvases, Helen Frankenthaler created monotype prints in the 1960s that produce a similar effect of soft color areas