The graphic works (lithographs, block prints and drypoints) of Birger Sandzén represent a large and diverse body of images. Sandzén began printmaking at the urging of Carl Smalley, a book and art dealer in McPherson, Kansas. He received his first lithographs in mid-February 1916. Later, in August, he printed his first woodcut block print. It was not until March of 1918 that he would have an edition of drypoint images printed.
In a 1916 letter to former student Evelynn Johnson, he described his initial attempts in lithography: “I have done two experiments in lithography and I am glad to say they are a perfect success. Carl Smalley, a good friend from McPherson, has been after me a long time to do some work of this kind. When I did not get started quickly enough, he bought an outfit of lithographic crayons and sent it to me. I drew two landscapes – Colorado Pines and Dry Creek, sent them, or rather Carl Smalley sent them to a lithographic printing house in Philadelphia, which transferred them on stone and made proofs [an edition of 50], which I received a couple of days ago.”
In his career, Sandzén created 207 lithographs, 94 block prints, and 27 drypoints. When the editions are totaled, they amount to over 33,000 prints. For additional information about Sandzén’s graphic work, The Graphic Work of Birger Sandzén by Charles Pelham Greenough, 3rd is an invaluable resource. The book is available through the Sandzén Gallery.