Body Printing

Body printing- what is it good for?

“When I lie down on the paper which is first placed on the floor, I have to carefully decide how to get up after I have made the impression that I want. Sometimes I lie there for perhaps three minutes or even longer just figuring out how I can get off the paper without smudging the image that I’m trying to print.”

— David Hammons, 1970 interview with Joseph A. Young, LACMA

David Hammons making body prints, 1974. Photo: Bruce Talamon

Critics and the public alike have long been fascinated by David Hammons‘ body prints. Hammons made body prints in the 1960s and early 70s in LA. He applied margarine and baby oil to his body and clothing, and pressed himself against sheets of paper placed on the wall or floor, and dusted the resulting impressions with pigment powder.

“A critically successful artist whose practice comments on race, politics and society-at-large and spans printmaking, painting and drawing, installation, performance and mixed-media sculpture, Hammons is as well known for his wry, innovative approach to art making as he is for flouting the accepted structure of the fine art world… Hammons once said in a rare interview with art historian Kellie Jones, “The art audience is the worst audience in the world. It’s overly educated, it’s conservative, it’s out to criticize not to understand, and it never has any fun. Why should I spend my time playing to that audience?” ”

See full article about a Hammons work at auction here.

David Hammons. “Boy with Flag.” 1968.

Hammons is placed in conversation with Yves Klein in The Aspen Art Museum’s David Hammons Yves Klein / Yves Klein David Hammons exhibit.

Both artists draw on the power of the human form and the agency and directness of printmaking. What do you make of the results?

Yves Klein, Anthropométrie de l’époque bleue, 1960
Yves Klein and model

More Yves Klein works and additional information here.


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