May 22, 2015

Eiffel Tower

        Today I printed the piece I began carving at my last show.  It’s based on a photograph I took on a trip to Paris fifteen years ago, standing under the Eiffel Tower and looking up along one of the legs.  I liked the way it seemed almost abstract, yet still actually depicted something, and I liked the way there were areas of black on white and areas of white on black.
        While I was working on it I thought it would be interesting to see how other artists have depicted the iconic tower, and I found these two and a half block prints to keep mine company.  The “half” is apparently really a lithograph, although it’s obviously in the style of Japanese wood block printing.  It’s not entirely clear whether the original was a wood block print and the reproduction is a lithograph, or whether Henri Riviere never carved a block at all, but merely mimicked the look.  In any case, I love the 
way he’s obviously playing off of Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mt Fuji.  I also think it’s super cool that the Eiffel Tower is under construction in this piece.  It took almost two years to build, but it’s hard to picture a Paris with half a tower looming on the skyline.
        I’ve also found a beautiful, detailed view from the year of the tower’s completion.  This image was probably considered journalism more than art at the time, but I think it’s really quite lovely.  It also puts my level of detail to shame!  I worked so hard and long on all the little tiny lines on mine, and this anonymous artist has bested me by orders of magnitude!
        And lastly, an image of an artist beholding the glory of the tower - much simpler, no twiddly bits, but utterly unmistakeable.
        Indeed, the Eiffel Tower is so famous, so easily recognized, so ubiquitous an image, that I thought it would be fun to show it from an unusual, less recognizable view.

[Pictures: Eiffel Tower, rubber block print by AEGN, 2015;
From the series Thirty-Six Views of the Eiffel Tower, lithograph by Henri Riviere, 1888 (Image from The Blue Lantern);
The Eiffel Tower at the time of the Universal Exposition, wood block print by an artist whose name I can’t make out on the corner of the block, from La Nature, 1889 (Image from Elevator Systems of the Eiffel Tower);
Untitled woodcut by Helena Bochorakova-Dittrichova from the graphic novel The Artist on her Journey, 1930s (Image from National Endowment for the Arts).]

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