March 31, 2017

Block Printmaker Eichenberg

        Last post I explained how I was picking for this alphabet series artists with less work, and now right off the bat I’m breaking that plan with Fritz Eichenberg (Germany/USA, 1901-1990).  Eichenberg is a major and prolific artist in the world of wood engraving.  His work is technically spectacular, dense, detailed, with amazing control of shading.  He also does a lot of work with a spiritual and political focus, much of which is very powerful.  However, while I admire his work immensely, I find that I usually don’t quite like it.  It’s a little too ugly, a little too satirical and dark-spirited - disturbing rather than uplifting.  Nevertheless, here are a few that I think are pretty cool.
        The first two pieces really demonstrate the drama for which Eichenberg is so well known.  They use the optical drama of black and white to create a sense of psychological drama - in the first piece, suspense and foreboding, and in the second, sympathy and awe.  (And I picked the third piece just because it goes with the Word of the Month.)

        I don’t have so many other E printmakers, but Escher alone should keep you plenty busy…
Escher, M.C. (Plus many other posts.  Just "Search This Blog" in the sidebar!)

Word of the Month
        E is also for Etymology, and as today’s the last post of the month, here’s one fun Word of the Month etymology for you.
        Easel, on which a painter works and a printmaker might display his work, comes from the Dutch for the lowly “ass, donkey.”  English borrowed the word in the 1590s, when Dutch painting was in its Golden Age with Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, Rembrandt, and many more.  Clearly English-speakers were eager to get in on the artistic act, although the Dutch meaning doesn’t seem very glamorous.  The idea is of a beast of burden holding something for you, and it isn’t so far-fetched after all when you compare it with our own English sawhorse.

[Pictures: The Assignation, wood engraving by Fritz Eichenbeg from The Tales of Edgar Allen Poe, 1944 (Image from Davidson Galleries);
Christ of the Breadline, wood engraving by Eichenberg, 195o (Image from Danny Coleman);
Illustration (Donkey Kicking) from Till Eulenspiegel, 1922 (Image from Davidson Galleries).]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter E


Karnika Kapoor said...

I loved the way you described the work! It was very apt wording and it somehow made me see through the images.
Best wishes!

Unknown said...

Very informative.
With your explanation, could see the intricate details of myriad expressions hidden in the wooden carvings of Eichenberg. Thank up for enlightening!
Fun to know the origin and actual meaning of the word "easel"

Team MocktailMommies

Collage Of Life

Unknown said...

Its an amazing art form. I took one class on block printmaking. These by Eichenberg are intricate works of art.
A Piece of Uganda

Claudia Bookwright said...

I love Escher and I had no idea about the etymology of the word easel.
Enjoyed your post.

Anna Tan said...

Ooh, these are beautiful engravings.


Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks! =)