|Artemis (Diana) 12×11 Woodcut with Watercolor|
I purchased Shane Weller’s book (Dover Publications) on German Expressionist Woodcuts in the mid-90’s, and it’s been an excellent source of inspiration when I feel pulled to make something impactful, unfussy – and most important to me – different from the style & subject of what I normally carve. The book features excellent, full page examples of woodcuts from Kollwitz, Beckmann, Zitzewitz and Kirchner, etc. Those images lead me to research other artists from the early 1900’s – all of them gouging prolific creative visions into planks of wood, and printing them to paper with dark passages of ink. With anywhere-access to research via the net, and a solid book collection, we artists have enormous opportunities for experimental interpretation, variations on methodologies, and whole continents of influence. The writer Justine Musk posted a blog entry in March on the journey of being a writer that applies – I believe – to artists as well:
|Artemis woodcut getting a little watercolor love|
|Artemis the print next to the inked block she was printed from|
|The block of plywood Artemis was carved from|
The use of the term Expressionism to describe the artistic movement that flourished in Germany in the early years of the twentieth century seems to date from around 1911, although the movement was active earlier; Die Brucke (the Bridge), an association of artists espousing the Expressionist ideal, was established in 1905 and held annual exhibitions until 1913.
Expressionism was in part a reaction against Impressionisms emphasis of atmospherics and surface appearances, and against academic painting’s rigid technique, stressing instead the emotional state of the artist and subject. To this, the viewer was to add his own emotions, creating an experience rich in drama that conveyed the inner realtiy of the subject matter.
A change occurred in Experssionism with World War I. The horror of the war left an indellible mark, and the chaotic years of the Weimar Republic (1919-33) introduced a sharply satirical tone in the work of many artists. The rise to the power of the Nazis, with their repressive artistic programs, put an end to the Expressionists’ period of greatest productivity, although many continued their work until well after World War II.
Shane Weller – German Expressionist Woodcuts