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Yizhak Elyashiv

Israeli, Born 1964

Untitled 2000
Master printer - Maryanne Ellison Simmons
Collagraph from 96 one square foot plates
Somerset Satin
104"h x 156"w
Series of 8 unique tryptychs
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Yizhak Elyashiv was invited to work at Island Press in March 2000. By this time his art was already included in major museum collections including the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the New York Public Library. When master printer Maryanne Ellison Simmons invited Elyashiv to work at Island Press, she wrote, "As you know, The Department of Printmaking and Drawing specializes in small editions of large, experimental work."(1) While many of Elyashiv’s works had been quite big in the past, he would produce eight monumental maps (triptychs with each panel measuring 105" x 53") during his week at Island Press. Prior to his work at Island Press, Elyashiv's large prints actually consisted of assemblages of images. Instead of printing six one-foot-square steel plates on standard 24" x 36" pieces of paper and assembling these, Elyashiv used thirty-two one-foot-square sintra plates and printed them together on 53" x 105" sheets of paper(2). He was especially attracted to the idea of working on big paper on the big press – something he had not done before. He has stated that he likes to produce oversized images not just because he likes to work on a big scale, but also because the large size relates to the gesture that is essential in his work(3). Elyashiv’s "maps" were made by throwing grain-shaped steel pellets over the large surface of assembled plates, marking the spots where they landed, and printing the resulting image. He made a total of seven throws for the Island Press plates, marked each set of throws with a different number representing the seven days of the week, and then connected the landing spots with lines. As printing continued, the marked intersections changed from points marked by a small number to points of color to drilled holes in the plate. In many ways, his work is about order and systems. Indeed, the finished image is reminiscent of charts of the heavens.

Like other artists who had been invited to the print shop, Elyashiv was especially attracted to the bustle of activity that surrounded him as he worked. As an artist who was accustomed to printing his own art, the week spent in St. Louis invigorated him, and he found it inspiring to have so many people enthusiastic about the work that he was producing. Later, in May 2000, Elyashiv wrote to Simmons that "printing on a small format press seems so un-exciting and I haven’t printed much since my visit. I am [however] working on a new set of plates and have some ideas for new work. Time went by so quickly during my visit. I wish that I had more time to explore the collagraph."(4)

Marilyn Kushner
Curator and Chair of the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
Brooklyn Museum of Art
1 Maryanne Ellison Simmons to Yizhak Elyashiv, November 23, 1999, copy in Island Press Archives, Washington University in St. Louis
2 Sintra is lightweight commercial display-board plastic.
3 Yizhak Elyashiv to the author, March 7, 2002.
4 Yizhak Elyashiv to Maryanne Ellison Simmons, May 1, 2000, Island Press Archives, Washington University in St. Louis.