Vincent Longo is an artist I knew nothing whatever about - and indeed I still know very little about him. However, I ran into this interview with him by Julie Karabenick and found his woodcuts interesting. (By way of bio, he was born in New York in 1923.) Much of the interview has to do with Longo's use of a grid and geometric forms, which is certainly evident in these examples. He does lots of brightly-colored geometric paintings, as well as various other media. Obviously his abstract style, in all the media he uses, is very different from my style, but I imagine from my small acquaintance with his work that, like me, he appreciates both the vibrant colors of painting and the dramatic black and white of relief printing.
This piece (above) is interesting because its shapes and lines are so rounded. It reminds me of Lichtenstein's cartoon-style paint strokes, which is not at all the sort of marks I expect from a woodcut. Longo says that he was generally not much influenced by Expressionists such as Pollock, except in his printmaking. This is contrary to my expectation that carving wooden blocks would be more formal, while painting would be more conducive to spontaneous gestures.
Longo, however, says that it's his printmaking that's spontaneous, without preliminary sketching or plans. And after all I can really see how this piece (left) would be a very satisfying doodle: relaxing, yet fully absorbing. It sounds like Longo considers the printmaking to be a break from his much more planned and structured painting.
I think this one (below) is my favorite. Longo said the piece of wood had a gash already in it, which he incorporated into the burst design. I love the idea of using what's already there, even if - or especially if - some might consider it ruined and worthless. I also love the energy of this piece. It looks joyful to me.
(You can link to Vincent Longo's website here.)
Untitled, woodcut by Vincent Longo, 2005;
Conversation Revised, woodcut by Longo, 1960;
Cutting Close, woodcut by Longo, 1981;
Imago, woodcut by Longo, 1954.]