1xRUN is proud to welcome in fine art publishers Modern Multiples out of Los Angeles, as the legendary print house has opened up their expansive archive for the first Modern Multiples Archive Access. At 1xRUN we pride ourselves on having a healthy respect for the ones who have helped pave the way for what it is we do here at 1xRUN. It’s on that note, that we can safely say that one of the cornerstones of contemporary printmaking was created on the shoulders of Modern Multiples’ owner Richard Duardo. In the fall of 2014, Duardo would pass away unexpectedly leaving behind a massive legacy of dozens of unique editions from many of the contemporary art world’s finest. To give us some insight into this collection we caught up with Modern Multiples’ Montana Mills, who gives us the lowdown on some of the prints featured here and some background on this legendary print house. . .
1xRUN: Tell us a little bit about Modern Multiples, anything immediate you would like us to highlight about the history of the company?
Modern Multiples: At Modern Multiples we continue to produce museum quality serigraph and archival pigment editions for artists all over the world. Modern Multiples Fine Art Editions is the living legacy of my late uncle Richard Saul Duardo (RSD) — artist, master print maker and Los Angeles (LA) icon. He was so iconic he was called the “Warhol of the West.”
1x: Tell us a bit about your uncle and his attitude towards screen printing and the history of the craft.
Modern Multiples: RSD owned and operated screen printing studios in LA since the late 70s until his passing in 2014. He was there in the beginning of Centro de Arte Publico (CAP) with Carlos Almaraz and Frank Romero in 1978, collaborated with Sister Karen on the build out of the first screen printing studio for the flagship Self Help Graphics, and after founding more than a handful of businesses resolved on the iconic groomed Poodle logo and slogan “GROOMING ARTISTS CAREERS FOR OVER 3 DECADES” From LA to New York to Tokyo, Richard had friends high and low.
When he met Andy Warhol at The Factory in NY in the ’70s, he boasted his own West Coast studio and turned down a job offer from Andy himself to be a printer at The Factory. As legend has it, he and Andy were planning on printing together, but never agreed on whose studio to print at. Over the decades he did a a 2-venue show with Keith Haring and where they took a stretch limo from his DTLA Future Perfect studio where the show began to the Westside gallery where it culminated. He partied with Madonna, kicked Basquiat out of his apartment for tagging on furniture (among other things). He met and printed world famous anon street artist Banksy, partnered with Cheech Marin to create The Chicano Collection, and all the while never lost sight of his Northeast LA community.
“He was a great artist, and he came from this neighborhood. You can be at the center of your community and the world at the same time,” Cheech Marin said at a celebration for Duardo focused on Chicano artwork at Cal State.
1x: We have a nice cross section of prints here ranging the last two decades, what are some of your personal favorites and why?
Modern Multiples: Each and every Poodle Tribute print means a lot to me! I’ll talk more about that in a minute…
Some personal favorites of mine are also, in my opinion, some of the best executed serigraphs created at Modern Multiples. Our current Master Printer Ivan Alpuche is phenomenal. His father is a Master Printer and even he has told me Ivan has surpassed him technically. Take the 8-color “Clavo & Alice” Diptych by John Valadez for example – exceptional 4-color-process printing plus 4 touch plates for warmth. Not only do I love the subjects photographed in the mid to late 70s but I actually thought they were digital prints for months before Ivan told me, “Nah, I printed those.”
Another favorite of mine showcases the linocut reduction artist Dave Lefner and his ability to translate to a new print medium, serigraphy, with the use of rubylith. This work dates back to when Tony Clough printed at Modern Multiples before he started his own company Serio Press. Ivan Alpuche, RSD’s personal Master Printer at the time and current Master Printer at MM, remembers helping print this, too! With only four colors and one rubylith, the artist and Modern Multiples team was collaborative, technically masterful, and racy with “.com The End” as the statement overlaid on a revolver on a dollar bill and titled “The World As We Know It”. Great stuff!
I’m trying not to get carried away with favorites, but I have to mention the Italian calligraphy artist Luca Barcellona. who was introduced to the studio by legendary Chaz Bojorquez. His “Knowledge Speaks (Brush)” is part of The Jimi Hendrix Series and its awesomeness speaks for itself!
1x: Tell us about some of the artists that Modern Multiples has worked with over the years, who are some of your favorites?
Modern Multiples: Just a week ago, right before New Years, the production team of an upcoming Carlos Almaraz documentary visited the studio to capture footage of Almaraz serigraphs published at Modern Multiples. Another legend, Carlos’ art was full of color, usually pastel, and needed 35-50 color separations to recreate. Carlos was so prolific that this year, 28 years after his death, that LACMA is curating Playing With Fire, The Art of Carlos Almaraz for Pacific Standard Time (PST: LA/LA.) The fact that RSD and Almaraz were friends — as early as the late 70s when Richard got out of UCLA and helped start CAP, all the way through the end of Carlos’ life in ’89 when they were in production of another Almaraz serigraph — speaks volumes to me about how Richard’s community will always come around. I’m fortunate to feel this energy come around even still.
Frank Romero, a close friend of the studio and legend on his own, is still producing works through Modern Multiples. Since Richard’s passing, Frank has been a huge help to my mom, Lisa Duardo, as both a friend and client through hard times. I consider it an honor and privilege to be able to work with such a true artist with a vast history and boundless future. He has a one-man retrospective, DREAMLAND, opening February 12, 2017 in the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA.)
And while the legends still come around, it’s the fresh, young artists who will be the legends of tomorrow! GERMS is an artist I’ve been working closely with. He had a great seed idea for a project that we fleshed out with Miguel Felipe on the Day of the Dead. Modern Multiples, along with Miguel Felipe, Melly Trochez, Leo Eguiarte, Johnny “KMNDZ” Rodriguez, David Flores and Ricardo Estrada, will be releasing a brand new publication on February 18th, 2017 called “24/7/365.” These artists are not only bringing their screen printing ideas to the table, but each one in the edition will have a uniquely hand-painted background. I’m very excited to have so many current artists all in the studio at the same time!
Oh, did I mention, Banksy, Blek Le Rat, Shepard Fairey, Ernesto Yerena, Gajin Fujita, Chaz Bojorquez, Sage Vaughn, Becca Midwood, Speedy Graphito, Futura, Saber, Revok, Ron English, John Van Hamersveld, Retna, Mick Haggarty, David Hockney, Bob Zoell, Mark Mothersbaugh, Boy George, Mear One or Albert Reyes? Them too.
1x: How was 2016 for Modern Multiples, what were some of your favorite projects?
Modern Multiples: I think the Poodle Tribute project was my favorite project personally. The message behind each one of them – like John Valadez’s “You Live” and Knowledge Bennett’s “From One Comes Many” – energizes me. This was not the first round of tributes, nor will it be the last, and while there are more artists deserving of thanks and recognition, these 8 contributed to my first publishing project. They are a part of the community who validate my understanding of just how important the history of my uncle RSD really is.
A couple other highly enjoyable projects came through this year as well! We produced a 16-color Banksy-esque…well…Banksy parody called “Graffiti Truck…The Parody” by an anon artist that goes by Gonefellow. The rep and publisher, Castle Gallery, is based in Northern Ireland and deals almost exclusively in Banksy sales. In fact, it was such a buzz Los Anglese Magazine wrote an article titled “Is the Artist Who Made This Print Secretly Banksy?”
Over the summer, we produced a print for Disney XD who commissioned Buff Monster for the art. They were planning on giving this limited edition signed and numbered print away as swag at their booth in Comic Con San Diego. I think Buff, who was on the east coast at the time, thought he would be signing a poster. I hear he was more than pleasantly surprised when he got the stack of prints to sign! Disney went all out too! Look at the video they made just for this project!
1x: What is on the horizon at Modern Multiples?
Modern Multiples: I want Modern Multiples to continue to be a valuable resource to artists and publishers for top tier serigraphic Fine Art Limited Edition printing! I want to continue with periodic Modern Multiples Publications where we can invite artists into creative, collaborative projects – “24/7/365” Coming Soon. I want to see Duardos hanging next to Warhols and Harings. I want to see accessibly priced Fine Art Editions in the hands and on the walls of introductory collectors and established collectors alike. I want to build and nurture relationships with artists, studios, galleries and patrons who share mutual values of excellence, progressiveness, respect, good business and great art! Just like this budding relationship with 1xRUN. Thank you guys!
1xRUN: Where else can people find out more about you?
Modern Multiples: Website – Facebook + Instagram @modernmultiples