June 1, 2020

Summer Vacation: Italian Edition

        Lots of us will not be travelling much this summer, so I thought I’d help you do a little armchair travelling with block prints.  First, I’ll share some block prints that I have made on my past travels… (or at least, pieces I’ve made based on photos taken during my travels, because of course I don’t do the actual carving and printing while away from home).  And our first destination is Italy.
        We start in Venice, with the famous Ca’ d’Oro, an iconic palazzo on the Grand Canal.  Built around 1430, it represents the Venetian Gothic style.  As a subject for a block print, there were a number of elements that attracted me.  1. Between the white marble and the heavily shadowed openings of windows and doors, it is very graphically black and white.  2. Its architecture is ornate and geometric almost to the point of abstraction, which makes for an interesting visual design.  3. It is opulent and ethereal as a fairy tale palace, and seems to float on the canal like magic.  This piece is
currently on display at Gallery Twist in Lexington.  You can see it in the Living Room (in the video tour, or the 360° exploration), where they’ve paired it with a more abstract print using lace, which makes a fun combination.
        While the grand palaces of the Grand Canal are certainly worthy of their fame, however, the truly amazing thing about Venice is that it isn’t just scenic in spots, like most cities, but everywhere.  This is reflected in my second piece, a view of a random little footbridge over a random little canal near the narrow house we stayed in.  I chose this view precisely because it wasn’t famous or particularly recognizable, but represented for me the fact that every corner you turn reveals a beautiful, if shabby, surprise.
        I have featured quite a few other block prints of Venice before.  You can find them in these posts:  Venice in Relief (I) and Venice in Relief (II), (with links from there to yet a couple of other pieces.)
        We travel now to Milan, for a piece that I have never shared before because I consider it pretty much a failure.  It was an attempt at a multi-block print with five blocks, one for each
color, and the big problem was that the different colors of ink did not build on top of each other as I’d envisioned.  In particular, the  yellow was too opaque, (which is sort of ironic since I’ve done other pieces in which I was disappointed that the yellow wasn’t opaque enough).  Because of the colors being too garishly yellow, I tried watercoloring the sky slightly with blue to cool things down, but that didn’t work particularly well, either.  Also, being my first effort in printing multiple colors, I didn’t do very well with registration.  Maybe I should dig out the blocks and experiment with it again some day?  But in any case, it is here today because it is the courtyard of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, which is where Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper resides.  When I was there, just for a few hours between trains, no one was allowed in to see the mural, to my disappointment, but at least it was a lovely courtyard.
        And while we’re in Milan, why not stop in to see an interesting diagram of the Duomo di Milano, here.
        Next we head to Rome, where I did a block print of the interior of the Pantheon.  You can read more about my piece, as well as seeing several other block prints of churches of Rome at the previous post Three Ways to Look at Churches of Rome.  Plus, you can see Escher’s view of the interior of St Peter’s here.
        I have a couple of photographs of the Amalfi coast that I’ve been mulling as block prints, but I haven’t got around to them yet.  But no fear; there are still plenty of other views of Italy on this blog.  Escher’s got one of the Amalfi coast here, and you can see Ethelbert White’s view of Recco (on the northwest coast), here.  Plus
some Italian landscapes which may or may not represent actual places
        Have you ever been to any of these places?  Where would you love to go?  I hope that someday soon travel will once again be safe, and you’ll be able to indulge in a trip of your dreams.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this itinerary of relief block prints.

[Pictures: Venetian Gothic, rubber block print by AEGN, 2019;
Ponte Michiel, Venice, rubber block print by AEGN, 2017;
Italian Courtyard, color rubber block print by AEGN, 1997;
Pantheon, Rome, rubber block print by AEGN, 2017.]


Kristin said...

I have never been to Italy and will probably never get there. I enjoyed your print trip though.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Kristin. I'll be taking you to a few other destinations in coming weeks.