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 G. H. (Gatja) Rothe  (1935 - 2007)

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Lived/Active: California/New York / Germany/Switzerland      Known for: mezzotints-figural, botanical, animal, dance, flowers and horses

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Gatja Helgart Rothe is primarily known as G. H. (Gatja) Rothe

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Ad Code: 4
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from Auction House Records.
Broken Loose
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from American Design Ltd.:
G.H. Rothe is renowned as master of the mezzotint.  She combines technical mastery with inspired imagination. She was born in 1935 in Beuthen, Germany (ceded to Poland in 1945) and her studies in art history, human anatomy, goldsmithing and extensive drawing culminated in her discovery of the mezzotint technique.  Impelled to revive this most difficult technique of printmaking led to an invention in 1972 never accomplished before in mezzotint: transparency. Her years of research and constant practice supplied the perfect medium for her vast repertoire of images.

Ludwig von Siegen, the first mezzotint engraver would have been impressed.  He wrote in 1642, "There is no living artist who could guess how this engraving has been executed." Yet more impressive is G.H. Rothe's zeal; she has completed over 70,000 mezzotints.

"I carve my images into copperplates directly with a diamond.  Then I pit the surface with a chisel-like tool called a rocker.  When the ground work is done, I use a steel burnisher quite extensively to shape my images as one would do in a fine barr relief but working in reverse. After I pull a proof print from the copperplate, I cover the surface anew with fine pitted holes using the rocker, eliminating thought in action, practicing Karma Yoga.  The experience of layering images and the x-ray shapes is guided by the mind's eye.  I feel but cannot see the picture underneath the second layer of pits.  As the essence of life is an unknown force, I see when I don't look

Biography from Weston gallery:
Photographer Edward Weston met Gatja Rothe in 1970 in New York City, shortly after her arrival.  He was very taken with her art imagery and especially with her technique of Mezzotint. "Rothe had her presses in her 2nd Avenue apartment on the 5th floor where she tooled the copper plates, inked them, and pulled them.  Each mezzotint an original unto itself - no two alike as to colors!  Edward and Gatja disagreed many time until 3-4 am on the images. Commuting between Long Island and New York City was difficult for Edward but necessary to keep Gatja on track with salable images and subject matter - many times falling asleep on the swinging couch in the studio.  But artists have a way of give and take and they stand their ground on subject matter true to their heart including "skeletonizing" the figures, which Weston tried to get Gatja to tone down.

Some subjects were limited in sales appeal but Rothe and Weston published them and advertised for three straight years on the back, with full-page cover, of Art News. This is the first time that a major magazine or art dealer ran the same artist month after month - another first for Edward Weston Collection.

Gatja and Edward's relationship was very tight.  On Weston's birthday she surprised him by contacting the printer of a brochure and placed a picture of Weston and his new born colt "Equs" on the back of the brochure.  It was the best gift ever!

The Mezzotint technique was new to most art dealers in those days and Weston had an educational chore nationally with galleries and people in most cities.  Weston began an intense program of advertising and marketing for this one single artist.  This avid promotion caught the attention of a number of important publishers who romanced G. H. Rothe to leave Weston and to go with them.  Gatja was loyal to a point.  She finished the editions in work and then broke the news to Edward one night in the studio advising him that Dr. Maury Liebowitz of Hammer Galleries had made her such a fantastic offer, and "would Weston let her out of her commitment for additional editions?" Hammer had offered her a show in the 57th Street Gallery as well. How does one not bless the arrangement? Gatja was very grateful at the time and showered Weston with originals and other items, which we offer on our Weston Collection site today.

Along with the fantastic offer and the show at the gallery, Hammer published the Catalog Raisonne Editions and featured Rothe with LeRoy Neiman.  The demand for her works became phenomenal.  Truly, this woman had become the master of the mezzotint and is the finest mezzotint artist living today.

Edward Weston maintained her pricing all these years even when G. H. Rothe had the three galleries in Carmel, California. 


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