Friday, October 8, 2010

Franz Masareel

Franz Masareel (1889-1972).  One of the greatest woodcut artists of the 20th century.  These first few prints are from a book of his work that focuses exclusively on this couple.  The book is called "Frans Masareel: Geschichte ohne Worte, Ein Roman in Bildern," which in German means "Story without Words, a Book in Pictures."  The whole book is a visual  narrative without text, in which the man is unsuccessfully trying to woe the lady.  Notice the interesting use of background texture used to frame the composition in contrast with the blocky figures.

This second book ("The City: A Vision of Woodcuts", also image-exclusive, no text) more exclusively depicts outdoor scenes.  These compositions are even more complex and beautiful than in the previous set of prints.  What I love about them is that none of the compositions are straight.  They are all either skewed or looking up, down, from the side.  And they are all BUSY, chock-full of detail and crisp positive and negative space, without contradiction over the hierarchy between the black and white space.  This is very difficult to achieve successfully.  Orson Welles definitely drew some inspiration from these prints.  Definitely, definitely.

To view more images from these two books, please visit my Flikr account HERE

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