Our cover this month, Paper Doily (91/2 in. by 71/4 in.) by Luigi Rist* sold for $1,625 at Swann Auction Galleries’ recent Old Master Through Modern Prints sale in New York City on Nov. 2, 2017. Rist, who started out his art career as a painter, became fascinated by Japanese woodcuts after visiting an exhibition in New York with his good friend and fellow artist Sigurd Skou. It’s this shift to printmaking in his later life that earned him acclaim—including permanent collections at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among others.
Not only did Rist perfect his new favorite medium, he went above and beyond to create his own innovative (and quite complex) approach. Notably, while it’s typical in Japan for different artists to do the different steps of the print—one drawing, one carving and one printing—Rist took on all three parts. His unique touch also included mixing rice paste with pigments to create a more brilliant color, and he even designed his own knife for carving the cherry wood blocks. The subject of his work was mostly flowers, fruits (like the image on our cover) and vegetables, many of which were grown by his wife, Ida. It’s also said that Ida financially provided for them so that he could focus on his work, and it was this support that allowed him to propel to success.
You know how the old saying goes, “behind every successful man, there’s a woman.”
* The background material on Luigi Rist that appears in this column is based on “LUIGI RIST, Printmaker in the Japanese Tradition” by Barbara Whipple, which appeared in the American Artist in August 1971.