May 10, 2017

Block Printmaker Van der Vossen

        André van der Vossen (Netherlands, 1893-1963) was more-or-less a contemporary of the previous two artists, which shows what a wide variety of relief block printmaking was going on in the first half of the twentieth century.  And Van der Vossen provides plenty of variety all on his own.  I’ve picked today’s pieces to highlight some of that variety, and in addition to these he also designed Dutch paper currency with yet another sort of look.
        The first is my favorite, a nice clutter of black and white shapes, all about areas rather than lines.  There’s a drawbridge, cheek by jowl with a laundry line, hanging right smack against the houses, which are jammed tight against the ships in the background.  And a fun detail: you can see that the little person near the ships is wearing wooden shoes.
        There’s a lot more detail in this image of men in a boarding house, and there’s somewhat more shading, although you still get the same impression of crowdedness.  The men’s faces are a little stiff, but they have nice individual character behind their mustaches!
        An altogether different look is this bold design from a poster advertising an art exhibit.  I can’t say I like it so much, but it represents Van der Vossen’s interest in “modern” art.  I like the hand clutching art supplies, and the staring eye is certainly intense, even if I do have to wonder about the vertical pupil!  But after all, why worry about that when realism obviously wasn’t his priority here.
        And finally a fun scene of the animals gathered by Adam.  This was published as the illustration to a poem and it definitely has a look as if for children with its cute, chunky creatures and its touches of color.  Personally, I’d like it better without those colored accent blocks, but it’s still an enjoyable piece.  I especially like the cow’s face turned toward us, the pig, and the ape.  The giraffe is looking adorably askance about something behind it, perhaps Adam and Eve disappearing pinkly toward the side of the picture.  But can anyone identify the thing in the upper right corner that looks like a sea cucumber with rabbit ears up in a tree?

        Here is the slim digest of V printmakers previously featured in this blog:

[Pictures: Volendam, wood block print by André van der Vossen (Image from Kunstveiling);
Bij Tante Leen in ‘Het Witte Pard’, woodcut by Van der Vossen, 1929 (Image from Haffmans Kunst en Antiekhandel);
Tentoonstelling, lithograph reproduction of woodcut design by Van der Vossen, c 1920 (Image from Colletti Gallery);
Adam and the Animals, colored woodcut by Van der Vossen, (Image from University of Pretoria).]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter V


Kristin said...

I can barely see the little person way down by the ships. I think the creature in the tree is a squirrel. The monkey below has the same sort of fur.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Ah yes, I think you must be right about the squirrel!