Rolf Nesch

 

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

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Google images

 

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.

Expressionist portraits: woodcuts and paintings

Jawlensky

Moma Exhibiton

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Max Pechstein

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The earliest print technique, woodcut first appeared in China in the ninth century. Arriving in Europe around 1400, it was originally used for stamping designs onto fabrics, textiles, or playing cards. By the 16th century it had achieved the status of an important art form in the work of Albrecht Dürer and other Northern European artists.

During the first decade of the twentieth century German Expressionists sought to recover a German tradition and to register a thread of continuity with their late Gothic and Renaissance artistic heritage – taking inspiration from late Gothic artists like Durer, Baldung, Cranach, Altdorfer and Grunewald. It was in part a reaction against Impressionism’s emphasis on atmospherics and surface appearances, and against the rigidity of academic painting, stressing instead the emotional state of the artist, subject and also viewer. In addition to the Germanic tradition they were also inspired by Van Gogh, Munch, Gauguin, Cezanne and African and Oceanic art.

The use of the term Expressionism seems to date from around 1911, although the De Brucke movement had been established in 1905 and was holding exhibitions till 1913. Another movement: der Blaue Reiter was formed in 1911 as a loose collection of artists interested in abstraction. Other groups included the Berlin and Munich Secessions, the Red Group, the November Group and the New Artist’s Association. Among the publications were Der Sturm and Die Aktion. Many of these groups and publications had socialist of communist ideals.

They adopted woodcut as a primary artistic vehicle. Their starkly simplified woodcuts capitalized on the medium’s potential for bold, flat patterns and rough hewn effects. At the same time the flexibility of woodcut as a medium encouraged individual approaches and novel techniques from the Brücke’s vigorous cutting to the Blaue Reiter’s abstracted forms. They exploited the medium’s capacity to convey and disseminate innovative ideas, depicting wide ranging themes in a diversity of formats,  catering to different audiences.

A change occurred with World War I. The horror of the war and the chaotic years of the Weimar Republic (1919-33) led to introduction of a sharply satirical tone in the work of many of the artists. Many of the artists went on to join new movements like Dada and Neue Sachlichkeit and continued to work until well after World War II.

Sources:

Shane Weller ‘German Expressionist Woodcuts’ Dover Publications New York, 1994

MOMA Expressionist exhibition website

See also Wikipedia article on Expressionism

 

Georg Baselitz

Google images

Baselitz prints Google

Large Head  Tate  combination monoprint and woodcut

Drinker  linocut

Female Nude on a Kitchen Chair   upside down large scratched out monochrome linocut 2021 x 1370 mm

Head  upside down woodcut

Eagle woodcut

Making Art after Auschwitz and Dresden

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From Wikipedia and Tate website

Georg Baselitz (born 23 January 1938) is a German painter. He studied in East Germany, before moving to what was then West Germany.  He is seen as a revolutionary painter as he draws the viewer’s attention to his works by making them think and sparking their interest. The subjects of the paintings don’t seem to be as significant as the work’s visual insight. Throughout his career, Baselitz has varied his style, ranging from layering substances to his style, since the 1990s, which focuses more on lucidity and smooth changes.

Baselitz first encountered art in albums of nineteenth-century pencil drawings in the school library. He also assisted nature photographer Helmut Drechsler on occasional ornithological shoots. At the ages of 14 and 15, he painted portraits, religious subjects, still lifes and landscapes, some in a futuristic style. In 1955, he applied to study at the Kunstakademie in Dresden but was rejected. In 1956 he studied painting under professors Walter Womacka and Herbert Behrens-Hangler, and befriended Peter Graf and Ralf Winkler (later known as A. R. Penck). After two semesters, he was expelled for “sociopolitical immaturity.” In 1957 he successfully applied for a place at West Berlin’s Hochschule der Künste and continued his studies in Professor Hann Trier’s class, a creative environment largely dominated by the gestural abstraction of Tachism and Art Informel, affecting a certain orientation towards Paris amongst both staff and students. He immersed himself in the theories of Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Wassily Kandinskyand Kasimir Malevich. During this time he became friends with Eugen Schönebeck and Benjamin Katz. Andreas Franzke gives his primary artistic influences at this time as Jackson Pollock and Philip Guston. Conversely, he argues that Baselitz found the work of Barnett Newman inaccessible, as well as that of Mark Rothko.

Even in his early work of the late 1950s and early 1960s Baselitz rebelled against the dominance of abstract painting.. The imagery in these early works, symbolic of the body and its organs and of sexual obsessions, borders on the traumatic.

From the mid 1960s he concentrated on several figure types, sometimes portrayed as scarred or wounded but presented in a stylised form as modern heroes, as people from a mythical land beyond our questionable civilisation.

His career was boosted in the 1960s after police took action against one of his paintings, (Die große Nacht im Eimer), because of its provocative, offending sexual nature.

Baselitz spent the spring of 1964 at Schloß Wolfsburg and produced his first etchings in the printing shop there, which were exhibited later that year. He produced a number of large-format pictures eg the “Foresters”/ “Waldarbeiter” pictures. In 1969, using Wermsdorfer Wald by Louis-Ferdinand von Rayski as a model, he paints his first picture to feature an inverted motif, “The Wood On Its Head”/ “Der Wald auf dem Kopf.”

In the 1970s, Baselitz was part of a group of Neo-Expressionist German artists, occasionally identified as “Neue Wilden,” focusing on deformation, the power of subject and the vibrancy of the colors. He became famous for his upside-down images, seeing in this method the possibility of stressing the realisation of the motif as a painted surface and the form as his primary concern.

After moving in 1975 to Derneburg, near Hildesheim, Baselitz served as professor of painting at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe (1977–82) and at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste in West Berlin (1983–8). Although he continued to present the medium itself as his primary vehicle of expression, in the 1980s he again gave greater weight to subject-matter.

In 1976, Baselitz set up an additional studio in Florence, which he used until 1981. In 1977, he began working on large-format linocuts.  From 1978 until 1980, he worked on diptychs using the tempera painting technique (combinations of motifs), multipart pictures (series of motifs), and large-format individual works such as “The Corn Gleaner”/ “Die Ährenleserin,” “Woman Clearing Away Rubble”/ “Trümmerfrau,” “Eagle”/ “Adler” and “Boy Reading”/ “Der lesende Knabe.” The works become more abstract, with scriptural elements predominating.

In 1979 Baselitz began work on his first monumental sculptures in wood, for which he employed an elemental and deliberately unpolished technique that gave his figures and heads an archetypal forcefulness. Having worked for many years against the mainstream of contemporary art, by the 1980s he had established an international reputation through his influence on the young German Neo-Expressionist painters referred to in Germany as the ‘Neue Wilden

Baselitz currently lives and works near Munich and in Imperia. He recently sold his castle in Derneburg.

His work was exhibited in London, at the Royal Academy of Arts in late 2007, and in the White Cube gallery in 2009.