November 19, 2013


        Last week T performed in a cello recital.  (She played the waltz from Tchaikowsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” and did a great job.  I’m so proud!)  So this seemed like a perfect time to share a block print of a cellist playing a recital.
        This piece by Paul Beaver Arnold (USA 1918-2012) is at the Cleveland Museum of Art, but they don’t give any extra information about it.  For example, how many blocks went into it - as many as 4 perhaps, for the 4 colors?  Or maybe two blocks, one inked with black, and the other inked with all the the other colors?  Or perhaps it was a reduction print using only one block in multiple stages?  I don’t know for sure, but the fact that the black end of the piano sticks slightly beyond the brown background on the right edge without appearing at all offset at the edge of the cellist’s sleeve leads me to guess that black and brown, at least, are separate blocks.
        I think it’s cool how all the black is one lump, without outlines between the edges of black clothing, black music stand, black piano, black chairs.  I can’t seem to do that.  I always feel the need to put in outlines.  Also, the cello has no strings.  It probably makes sense visually, since they wouldn’t be bright white or sharp black or particularly conspicuous at all.  Still, I would have felt the need to put them in.
        One artist said of Arnold, “His work shows terrific observation of life’s complexity yet he manages to reduce it to a compelling simplicity.”  I think that’s one of the things that block printing does so wonderfully well.

[Picture: Recital, color woodcut by Paul Beaver Arnold, 1994 (Image from Cleveland Museum of Art).]
(Quotation from John Pearson as cited in Arnold obituary by Grant Segall,

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