Rolf (Emil Rudolf) Nesch (1893 – 1975) was an expressionist artist, especially noted for his printmaking – ‘material pictures’. He is one of the first artists to have consciously used collage to create collagraph printing plates.
Rolf Nesch tribute
Nesch was born in Esslingen am Neckar, and studied at the academy in Dresden from 1912 to 1914. He then participated in World War I, but was taken prisoner by the British. In 1929 he settled in Hamburg to continue his painting career, influenced by expressionism in general, especially Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Edvard Munch. Upon the Nazi takeover in Germany in 1933, Nesch repatriated to Norway.
Inspired by Norwegian scenery and working life, he gave up painting and produced the following year his first so-called material picture, and also took up sculpture. Drawing continued to be a key means of expression. But it is as printmaker that Rolf Nesch made his most significant contribution. As a technical innovator he discovered the potential in new materials – using metal and found objects as the basis for collagraphs. He gave depth and texture to prints by soldering out metal shapes and wire to metal printing plates. He then took this further by drilling holes in plates and sewing to the base plate. The prints were so deep he needed 8 blankets to get the right pressure and very heavy strong paper.Many of his images are narrative with bold use of cutout figures.
Nesch died in 1975 in Oslo. The Nesch Museum opened in 1993 in Ål, where he had lived for twenty-five years, to commemorate his hundredth anniversary.