Pierre Alechinsky was an active member of the artists' group CoBrA, an acronym derived from its members' origins in Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam. Established in 1948, CoBrA was a postwar European phenomenon, contemporary with Abstract Expressionism though more collaborative and politicized in its activities. While rejecting the official tenets of Surrealism, CoBrA used similar spontaneous methods to formulate individualized iconographies tied to Northern European folk art, "primitive" art forms, and children's drawings.
Introduced to printmaking in 1944, Alechinsky studied typography, poster design, and book illustration at the National College of Architecture and Decorative Arts in Brussels. When CoBrA disbanded in 1951 he moved to Paris on a grant from the French government to study etching and engraving at Stanley William Hayter's celebrated Atelier 17. There he met Jean Clerté, a printer who became his primary collaborator. He also formed long-term relationships with other celebrated European workshops and printers, including Imprimerie Clot, Bramsen et Georges, Imprimerie Arte, and Atelier Bordas for lithography, and Valter and Elenora Rossi, Robert Dutrou, and Piero Crommelynck for etchings and engravings. He has created over eighteen hundred prints, including book illustrations, posters, and ephemeral works.
One Stone, Two Passes demonstrates Alechinsky's use of framing devices, understood as both frontier and threshold, which appear frequently in his work. An encompassing black stroke gives cohesion to a set of seemingly isolated and fragmentary semifigurative images, a few of which are themselves enclosed by marked boundaries of a frame. Framing elements become even more complex and ornamental in later prints by the artist.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Raimond Livasgani, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 140.