John Muench was a painter and printmaker. He studied at the Académie Julian (Paris) and the Art Students League (New York). In 1946, he purchased a printing press and lithograph stones for the astonishingly low price of $150. Because he had studied painting and not printmaking, he brought curiosity and a willingness to take chances and break the rules to the lithography process. He said:

In many ways, I feel my approach to the medium is non-doctrinaire. As a painter for a number of years before I became intrigued with lithography, I was not inhibited by any preconceived ideas about what a lithograph should be. Nor was I constrained by rules that might come between concept and realization. Consequently, I made a good many discoveries, not only of an aesthetic nature, but technically as well. Since I was drawing and printing my own work I controlled the entire operation. I did, indeed, make many mistakes, and many experiments did not work. The ones that did are now part of my repertoire.*

After buying the press, Muench began printing black and white prints. In 1954, his understanding of lithography expanded when he met Marc Chagall while in Paris and watched him make lithographs. He also studied the process at the Atélier Mourlot Frères and the Atélier Dorinant in Paris. Not only did he print his own drawings, but he also printed for Richard Diebenkorn, Julian Levi, and Hans Moller, among others. Wishing to share his knowledge of lithography, he wrote The Painter's Guide to Lithography, published in 1983. Muench's own work ranged from naturalistic pieces, such as the landscape in the Lindquist Collection, to abstract ones. Although his career spanned many decades, he never lost his zeal for printmaking. He said, "[T]he joy and excitement of making lithographs has not diminished for me with the passage of time."** He received the Tiffany Fellowship three times in his career: once for painting and twice for printmaking. In addition, he served as the head of the printmaking program at the Rhode Island School of Design for fourteen years and as the director of the Maine Printmaking Workshop (1977-1983; Muench also founded the organization). His work is part of prestigious collections throughout the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fogge Art Museum at Harvard University, and the Brooklyn Museum

The University of Maine has Muench's papers, a summary of which is available online at http://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=124....

*John Muench, The Painter's Guide to Lithography (Fairfield, CT: North Light Publishers, 1983), 104.
**Muench, The Painter's Guide to Lithography, 11.

Related Artwork