Art Encyclopedia - Lithography
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Lithography is a graphic technique which is based on the fact that water rejects oil, and oil, water. If a mark with a greasy substance is made on an absorbent material, when that material is soaked with water, the grease will reject the water. When, however, a greasy pigment is applied to the soaked material, it in turn will be rejected by the water in that material, and will adhere in turn only to the original greasy mark. Hence that mark can be transferred to a piece of paper as a print.
The material used is water absorbent stone or metal plate, and there are many refinements to the process as outlined above. Lithography is much favoured by artists for two reasons. Fisrtly the wide range of textures of the stones and plates, and the wide range of greasy drawing materials both ensure that the artist's personal gesture can be reproduced. Secondly, because the stone or plate retains its flat surface, exact registration of colours where more than one colour is used is easier than in other graphic media, except silkscreen, because in relief and intaglio graphics the integrity of the block or surface is necessarily destroyed.