Robert Mangold is among the leading painters to emerge in the mid-1960s using a reductive vocabulary of line and color. Influenced by prehistoric cave painting and Renaissance frescos in which the image is applied directly to the wall, Mangold strove to integrate paint and canvas in works that stress their frontality and flatness. His compositions often comprise multiple canvases, reflecting his ongoing themes of fragmented wholes and unified parts. In recent years his austere geometry and monochrome backgrounds have evolved into multicolored palettes and textured surfaces.
Printmaking's potential for serial imagery made it a natural medium for Mangold, allowing him further experimentation with his variations on a theme. Since the 1980s he has frequently explored new ideas and motifs through printmaking, with imagery from prints preceding that in paintings. In addition, the delicate line attainable with etching, and the subtle tone and dense surfaces of aquatint, have been particularly suited to Mangold's Minimalist compositions. He has also worked extensively in screenprint, and in recent years has exploited the textured backgrounds achievable with the woodcut technique. He has printed with numerous shops around the United States and Europe, often collaborating with one or two for an extended period of time. Most notable are Crown Point Press and Simmelink/Sukimoto as well as Derrière L'Étoile and Spring Street Workshop. Since his first published projects in the late 1960s, Mangold has completed more than one hundred seventy-five prints, most of them comprised in serial portfolios.
Seven Aquatints reveals Mangold's continued fascination with the relationships between interior and exterior forms. He creates a palpable tension between the perfect outer circle and the flawed interior square. Allusions to Renaissance art abound in the rich antique tones and in the suggestion of The Proportions of Man, Leonardo da Vinci's renowned drawing of an outstretched figure within a circle and square.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Wendy Weitman, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 197.