January 15, 2019

Two By Marcks

        What a fun block print this is, by Gerhard Marcks (Germany, 1889-1981).  I just love the simplicity of it: the necks are just lines, the heads are almost hieroglyphic, and the background is such an interesting contrast of very simple geometric pattern.  Four of the ostriches are male, which is a natural for a black and white block print, with one speckled female for variety.  (I’m also appreciating ostriches right now because the block I just designed to be carved next weekend includes an ostrich-inspired alien creature - or struthioform, to coin(?) a fancier word to describe it.)
        Here’s another piece by Marcks with a very different vibe, although you can certainly see a commonality in the extensive use of simple striping.  Instead of being humorous, this is dramatic and quite serious.  One interesting detail is that you can see a bit of wood grain on the under edges of the cloud, which contributes to the shading.  I wonder whether this was a happy accident, or whether Marcks deliberately created the effect, perhaps by sanding the grain slightly in those places, or by inking more lightly there.
        I really like both these pieces, and their different moods.

[Pictures: Laufende Strauße (Running Ostriches), woodcut by Gerhard Marcks, 1956 (Image from Galerie Nierendorf);
Einsame Pappel (Lone Poplar), woodcut by Marcks, 1960 (Image from Luther College).

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