R. S. Johnson Fine Art is celebrating over sixty-five years in its spacious Michigan Avenue gallery. The gallery specializes in museum quality works ranging from Old Masters to Impressionism and Modernism. Featured artists include – Dürer, Rembrandt, Piranesi, Goya, Cassatt, Matisse, Léger and Picasso.
Over the decades, R. S. Johnson’s expert staff has produced more than 175 scholarly catalogs and books, ranging from Old Master prints and drawings to the art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These publications are respected internationally for their research and art historical contributions.
Indicative of the quality of the works shown as well as the gallery’s academic nature, over seventy museums have acquired artworks from R. S. Johnson Fine Art. Recent acquisitions by museums include purchases by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Art Institute in Chicago, The National Gallery of Canada and the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva, Switzerland.
A brief list of terms related to printmaking techniques
An etching process used to produce continuous areas of tone on the copperplate through the controlled application of small particles of resin. These particles are uniformly distributed on the plate by using a dusting box. Then they are fused to the plate by heating. When the plate is put into an acid bath in order to be bitten, the resin particles protect the small surfaces they cover from the biting, and the result is, on the proof, a dark surface with small roundish white spots. Aquatint can be used on all the surface of a plate, and then worked with a scraper.
Sharp, square-headed tool used to incise lines into a copperplate. Pushing this tool through the metal requires a great deal of force. The beginning of a burin stroke is always pointed; the end tapers to a point in most professional engravings.
A sharp unwieldy needle which scratches into the plate without removing any substance: the metal is simply deflected up out of the grooves into flanking ridges. These ragged ridges catch the ink and produce a velvety burr around the printed line. After a few proofs are pulled, the burr wears out and the ridge of metal prints white. Drypoint is usually pulled into the metal of the plate.
A technique in which the surface of the plate is covered with a ground, usually varnish, that is then scratched into by the artist using a needle or scraper (engraving tool with sharp triangular edges). The plate is immersed in acid which eats away those parts of the plate no longer protected by the varnish ground. Aquatint is based in the same technique.
Category of printmaking in which the lines to be printed are below the surface of the plate. The plate is inked and wiped. The paper is dampened, and plate and paper are put through a press which forces the paper into the inked grooves. Since the paper is usually larger than the plate, a mark, called a plate mark or plate line is left on the paper.
As in the production of woodcuts, a gouge is generally used to make a linocut. Both are means of making relief prints, in which everything is cut away from the block except the lines to printed.
Printmaking process using fine limestone or chemically treated zincplates. The image is drawn onto the stone or plate with greasy ink or crayon, then the stone is wet down. When the greasy printing ink is applied, the wet areas repel the ink, while the drawn areas retain the ink. Printing is made on slightly dampened paper. There are usually no plate lines in lithography. The stone or zincplate is usually much bigger than the "imaged" parts of them. The artist can draw with lithographic crayons, or with greasy lithographic ink. S/he can also scrape the engrave the stone to create clean open areas.
Engraving technique used to produce areas of full black and white. The engraver textures the entire plate with a rocker, producing an allover black. Then s/he scrapes and burnishes the metal to lighten different parts of the plate in order to produce his or her image.
When a plate or stone is printed and then changed, each step for which prints exist is called a state.
645 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
Reduced COVID Hours:
Monday – Saturday
11am – 5pm
We are located at the southeast corner of
Michigan and Erie.
Entrance is located on Erie.
R. Stanley Johnson, President
R. Stanley Johnson has published over one hundred scholarly catalogues and has curated exhibitions ranging from Old Master prints, drawings and paintings to the art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and covering artists from Dürer, Rembrandt, Piranesi and Goya to Cassatt, Villon, Czóbel, Gromaire, Barnabè, Matisse, Léger and Picasso. He also has lectured in many museums throughout America. His recent writings include essays on “Andrea Mantegna” and “Reflections on Collecting”, both published by the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in Nouvelles de l’Estampe, and "Pissarro’s Self-Portrait", published in the September, 2010, issue of Print Quarterly in London. His book Cubism & La Section d’Or: Reflections on the Development of the Cubist Epoch 1907-1922, now an essential reference on the subject, was first published in 1991. In 1993, this was one of ten books nominated by the College Art Association for the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award for Museum Scholarship. In 2004, he published Pablo Picasso: Works on Paper and in 2007 Marcel Gromaire: Paintings. More recent books include Old Master Prints: Dürer, Rembrandt, Piranesi and Goya in 2009 and Mary Cassatt: Early Graphic Works, published in 2011.
As an undergraduate, R. Stanley Johnson studied at Mexico City College, the Universidad Mayor de San Marcos in Lima and completed his degree at Northwestern University. He then benefitted from fourteen years of post-graduate study in Europe. These included two years of classical languages and philosophy at the Universities of Vienna and Perugia, as well as art history for nearly a decade under the tutelage of the late Prof. André Chastel at the Institut d’Art et d’Archéologie at the Sorbonne.
He is a member of the American Society of Appraisers and one of eight members in North America of La Chambre Syndicale de l’Estampe, du Dessin et du Tableau (Paris). In honor of his many cultural achievements, in 1983 the Minister of Culture of France named R. Stanley Johnson as an Officier des Arts et des Lettres.
Ursula M. Johnson, Vice President
Ursula Maria Johnson is proficient in English, French, Spanish, Italian and German as well as Greek and Latin. She studied at the University of Bonn and then went on to post-graduate studies at the universities of Innsbruck, Perugia and Vienna (with art history professors Lutteroti, Demos and Swoboda) before nine years of studies and research in art history with André Chastel at the Institut d’Art et d’Archéologie at the Sorbonne. In her studies, she specialized in the Ecole de Fontainebleau and the influence of Italian Renaissance art on the development of sixteenth-century art in France. She has published extensively including her 1993 book, Lovis Corinth (1858-1925).
Suzanne Varkalis, Director
Suzanne Varkalis received her B.A. in Art History and Visual Arts Management from Columbia College, Chicago. She joined R. S. Johnson Fine Art in 1999 and has been the gallery director for over 10 years. Mrs. Varkalis has curated over 25 exhibitions, ranging from Old Master prints and drawings to Modern European paintings, prints and drawings and has helped publish each of the scholarly catalogues that accompanied the exhibitions. She has worked as researcher, editor and designer and has also given numerous lectures at the gallery.
In addition, Suzanne is a certified Fine Art Appraiser and is an accredited member of The American Society of Appraisers. Her specialties include Old Master prints, nineteenth century French prints and drawings, as well as, early twentieth century French and German Modernism.
Jacqueline Lewis, Assistant Director
Jacqueline Lewis holds a B.A. in the History of Art & Architecture and Public Relations & Advertising from DePaul University. She assists with the editing, design and production of gallery publications, as well as the researching and cataloging of works. Her specialties include Modernism (particularly Dadaism, Suprematism and Cubism) as well as Old Master prints.
Ms. Lewis also serves as the gallery’s Communications, Media and Advertising specialist.
Kristen Arcus, Gallery Assistant
Kristen Arcus holds a B.A. in the History of Art and Architecture and a B.A. in History from DePaul University. She assists with the production of gallery publications and the researching and cataloging of works. She also curates and manages the gallery's online media.