Here Celmins has combined mezzotint (a tonal etching technique that produces velvety gradations from deep black to stark white) with drypoint, which she used to sharpen the details. Composed from two equal-sized etching plates, the print—like much of Celmins's work—makes its construction evident, creating a dynamic between its uncanny realism and its obvious assembly by the artist. Celmins is known for paintings and works on paper that depict expansive areas of the natural environment (such as ocean, desert, and space) based on photographs and newspaper clippings she began collecting decades ago. The starry night sky is a theme that she has returned to again and again, using a variety of labor-intensive techniques carefully chosen for their unique characteristics. The Museum owns more than forty works by Celmins in various mediums. Because her techniques are so labor intensive, Celmins releases new work infrequently; the acquisition of Starfield is a significant updating of the collection.
Gallery label from New to the Print Collection: Matisse to Bourgeois, June 13, 2012–January 7, 2013.