Donald Farnsworth
Darwin: Origin of ... Chapter 2 #1, 2001
mixed media, chine colle
20 x 16.5 in.

Donald Farnsworth


The art of Donald Farnsworth addresses a series of dualities through images that are as lyrical and serene as they are layered and complex. By employing both traditional creative methodologies such as papermaking, etching, and lithography, and the most up-to-date digital imaging technologies, Farnsworth creates prints and mixed media pieces that blur the boundaries between old and new, fusing past and present into single, hybrid forms. East and West also synthesize in Farnsworth’s work, as he combines images and fragments of text drawn from Western sources with East Asian decorative motifs and papers. A consummate craftsman, Farnsworth adjusts and develops his images through a complex technical process that involves monoprinting, drawing (by hand or with the aid of digital programming), and layering sheets of paper that vary in texture and transparency. Farnsworth mastered this wide array of skills as a student at the San Francisco Art Institute (BFA 1974) and the University of California at Berkeley (MA 1977) and as a teacher (he has taught at both UC Berkeley and UC Davis, as well as, most recently, at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu). In 1981, Farnsworth, David Kimball, and Arne Hiersoux founded Magnolia Editions, where Farnsworth has directed the print shop for the past two decades. At the time that Magnolia was founded, Farnsworth’s works on paper featured fragments of gothic and classical architecture printed delicately on top of layers of various materials and debris that Farnsworth had transformed into thick, parchment-like sheets of paper. The resulting pieces were palimpsests of information and imagery, in which the ruins of the past joined with fragments of the present. Farnsworth’s recent works retain the synthetic quality of these early images, but the range of meanings present in his new pieces has expanded as his imagery has grown to include faces drawn from Old Master paintings, commonplace household items, such as irons and umbrellas, and trees. In addition to his work as an artist, teacher, and master printer/papermaker, Farnsworth is also a former president of the World Print Council and has sat on the board of The Graphic Arts Council. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan and is held in the collections of, among other institutions, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC.