Printing and publishing original prints since 1979
BORCH Editions was founded in Copenhagen in 1979 and has over the years established a solid reputation as one of the world’s leading producers and publishers of original prints.
The heart of BORCH Editions is the Copenhagen printmaking studio. The printmaking, always done in-house, is a close collaborative process between the artists, founder and master printer Niels Borch Jensen, and his team of master printers: Julie Dam, Tom Jennions and Mette Ulstrup. The collaborations often continue over many years, allowing the artists to build up a comprehensive body of printed work that explores the various aspects of the medium and ties in closely with their oeuvre. From 1999 until 2023 the print projects were presented in BORCH Gallery in Berlin.
BORCH Editions regularly participates in some of the world’s foremost art fairs, among them Art Basel and the IFPDA Fine Art Print Fair in New York.
BORCH Editions’ print projects are part of renowned international contemporary art collections, both private and public, among them MoMA (New York), the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), The British Museum (London), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk), and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
Through the studio’s 40-year history runs an undercurrent of bold experimentation and continuous hard work to reshape and revitalise the field of printmaking together with some of the world’s leading artists.
Learn more about our history below.
THE SHOEMAKER’S PRESS
Niels Borch Jensen’s passion for printmaking started in high school, where an enthusiastic art teacher right out of The Royal Academy in Copenhagen introduced him to the art form. When his father brought home an old leather press from a local shoemaker, young Niels Borch Jensen converted it into an etching press in his room.
After training in printmaking at I. Chr. Sørensen’s printstudio in Hjørring, Denmark, and completing creative stints abroad at Lakeside Studio in the US and Grupo Quince in Spain, Borch Jensen opened his own printmaking studio in central Copenhagen in 1979.
His ambition was to set up a studio like the American studios that lead the print revival in the 1960s, where any technical process was available, and the artists were encouraged to experiment.
I wanted to work with artists I admired regardless of whether they were experienced printmakers or not
Niels Borch Jensen
Fortuitously, one of the first artists to drop by the new studio in Store Kongensgade was Danish painter Per Kirkeby, whose willingness to test the limits of his craft matched Borch Jensen’s. Together, they began experimenting with color printing and aquatints as well as more ambitious formats, mixing different techniques like etching, woodcut and linocut with multiple layers and colors and à la poupée printing. The foundation for a lifelong working relationship was established.
Borch Jensen realized that very few people paid attention to the printer or studio. That would change by the mid 1980s, when his passion for innovating the trade led to a daring experiment: he installed his first large size press with a bed measuring 150 x 300 cm (59 x 118 in), taking up most of the space in the studio. On the same evening he finished installing the press, Borch Jensen met American artist Keith Haring at a dinner. Talking enthusiastically about the new possibilities, they agreed to meet and make the biggest print they could. The sugar lift aquatint Medusa Head (1986) with a total size of 140 x 240 cm (55 x 94 in) became the first in a long line of large-scale prints and the beginning of an expertise that is still evolving.
NEW SPACE, NEW TEAM, NEW TECHNIQUES
With the big press, the space in the city center had become too small and in 1988, the studio moved into its current home; an old chocolate factory in the Amager district in Copenhagen. The studio started hosting exhibitions, both with the artists it published, but also with other significant artists such as Georg Baselitz and Bruce Nauman.
Borch Jensen began forming his team. In 1988, he hired Mette Ulstrup and Julie Dam started soon after.
Mette Ulstrup and Julie Dam stayed and became the master printers. They are still working with me and they have developed into truly amazing printers. They have formed the backbone of the studio for many years. Niels Borch Jensen
REFINED AND PERFECTED
In the late 1980s, Borch Jensen focused on developing the different materials and processes of classic etching. His ambition was to be able to work on a large scale in all techniques with the prowess and elegance of his hero Aldo Crommelynck, an undisputed master of classical etching techniques. When the studio had just about reached that point, a new challenge appeared.
The new generation of artists had started basing many of their works on photographic material. Borch Jensen tried to find a way to facilitate this demand, settling on the photogravure technique, using industrial photopolymer plates. The possibilities of photogravure opened the door to working with conceptual artists that did not paint or draw. By the mid-nineties, the studio was collaborating on photogravures with William Anastasi, Lewis Baltz, Olafur Eliasson, and Rosemarie Trockel.
AN INTERNATIONAL LEAP
In the early 1990s, the studio took a new leap internationally with its first collaboration with renowned German painter and sculptor Georg Baselitz, who had become familiar with the studio through a Kirkeby-series printed there.
Working with Baselitz was a dream come true. I saw how deep his understanding of the medium really is. He gets right to the essence of what he wants to do, with no time wasted on technical show-off or complications. Niels Borch Jensen
CHALLENGES IN SIZE AND COMPLEXITY
As the technical ambitions and international presence grew, so did the number of renowned artists working with the studio. In 2001, Borch Jensen and British artist Tacita Dean collaborated for the first time on the project The Russian Ending (2001), a series of twenty black and white photogravures. From then on several print projects followed, culminating in 2018 with the hallucinatory landscape of Quarantania.
A PRINT REVIVAL
In recent years a growing interest in all kinds of analogue printmaking is developing. Many younger artists and printers are experimenting with the classic handmade techniques, the focus is less on producing larger editions of technically perfect prints, as the legacy of the 1960s print revival suggests. It is more on the process, the challenge of working in one physical medium to obtain a result in another, and on the singular quality of the printed mark in relation to marks made in other ways.
It is about time for a new print revival
Niels Borch Jensen, spring 2020