Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A sculptor's lithographs

Writing about Alexandre Falguière's etchings got me thinking about sculptors as graphic artists, and I think that they frequently, like Falguière, use printmaking as a way of exploring and refining their ideas for sculptures. This was certainly the case for Henry Spencer Moore (1898-1986). Moore and his close friend from the Leeds College of Art and Design, Barbara Hepworth, were to become the two leading British sculptors of their generation, but Moore was also a substantial figure in the graphic arts. His prints are catalogued in two large volumes edited by Gerald Cramer, Alistair Grant and David Mitchinson, Henry Moore: Catalogue of Graphic Work. The work of an international star such as Henry Moore is mostly out of my range, but I do have three very interesting lithographs, all dating from around 1950 when he first became seriously interested in autolithography. This interest coincided with, and was I believe prompted by, the invention by the printer W. S. Cowell of "Plasticowell" or "Plastocowell" film. These transparent plastic sheets were born out of necessity, to make up for metal shortages after WWII, but they were seized on by a generation of British artists, including Moore and John Piper, because of their flexibility and practicality. Because they were transparent, the artist, who drew each colour on a separate sheet, could easily get the colour registration exactly as he or she wanted. And as the drawings were transferred from the Plasticowell to specially-prepared zinc plates for printing, the artist could also work the right way round, rather than back to front as when drawing a lithograph directly onto zinc or stone.

Henry Moore, Upper half of Standing Figures diptych
Lithograph, 1950

Two of my Moore lithographs, both printed by W. S. Cowell on machine-made wove paper, were published in the Penrose Annual in 1950 to illustrate an essay by Noel Carrington on this new process, "Autolithography of plastic plates". The two Moore lithographs are described in the contents as "Plastic plate experimental lithographs". The first, untitled in Penrose, is described rather obliquely below the image as "Drawing by Henry Moore. First proof from a plate prepared experimentally." It is now known as Upper half of Standing Figures diptych (CGM 14), as Moore subsequently added a second panel below this image, with a group of five standing figures, and the resulting diptych was published in an edition of 50 copies by School Prints. Cramer et. al. seem to have been unaware of the separate publication of the upper half in the Penrose Annual. A printed note on the back tells us that this and the second lithograph, Seated Figure, were each drawn on four Plasticowell plates. For some reason, despite the fact this print is several times explicitly described as an autolithograph, that it was printed by W. S. Cowell specifically to show off the Plasticowell technique, and that it was issued as an illustration to Carrington's essay on this subject, I have seen this print described as a collograph (for instance by Stephen Laird in the catalogue to the exhibition Twentieth Century British Lithographs at Keynes College, University of Kent, in 2009), but I don't understand why.

Henry Moore, Seated Figure
Lithograph, 1950

Seated Figure (CGM 13) was also issued in an edition of 50 by School Prints, on a slightly larger sheet. Once again, the catalogue raisonné does not mention the separate publication in the Penrose Annual. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about this monumental study is that when you turn over the sheet, you find, on the reverse, a second original lithograph - a charming study by Kathleen Hale from her autolithographed book Orlando Keeps a Dog.

Kathleen Hale, Orlando and Grace with a beetle
Lithograph, 1950

For sheer incongruity, this must be one of the most surreal aesthetic linkages of all time. Luckily the paper is opaque with no show-through, so you are free to admire either the Moore or the Hale, as the fancy takes you.

Henry Moore, Red and Blue Standing Figures
Lithograph, 1951

My third and last lithograph by Henry Moore comes from the rare first issue of the re-launched Nouvelle Serie of the art revue XXe Siècle, edited by G. di San Lazzaro, which appeared in 1951. Later issues of XXe Siècle had a substantial print-run estimated at 2,000 copies, but the run for the early issues must have been much more modest, as they are extremely scarce. Entitled Red and Blue Standing Figures (CGM 36), it was also published in a signed and numbered edition of 30 copies. It is printed by Edmond and Jacques Desjobert on cream wove paper. Three of the figures also appear in Henry Moore's first tapestry, Three Standing Figures, which was woven in 1950.

The etchings of Alexandre Falguière

Janine Bailly-Herzberg’s Dictionnaire de l’estampe en France 1830-1950, which is one of my most trusted reference books, credits the sculptor Alexandre Falguière (1831-1900) with just two etchings: Les nains mendiants and Caïn et Abel. I’ve already reproduced Les nains mendiants in my post Two intriguing portfolios, and re-post it here for the sake of completeness. It was executed in 1876 and published that year by Cadart (under the title Deux idiots mendiants), and republished in 1888 by L’Artiste, the year that Falguière exhibited his painting Les nains mendiants in the Paris Salon.

Alexandre Falguière, Deux idiots mendiants (Les nains mendiants - Grenade)
as published by Cadart in 1876
the signature and date are reversed in the plate

Caïn et Abel was also executed in 1876, the year in which Falguière exhibited a sculpture in plaster of the same subject at the Salon. Whether these figures were ever cast in bronze I don’t know; according to Bénézit, Falguière also made a painting of this subject. Bailly-Herzberg dates the first publication of this etching to 1902, when it was issued by the Revue de l’Art ancien et moderne, and also included in Léonce Bénédite’s Alexandre Falguière suivi d’un catalogue de ses oeuvres. I have a copy of Caïn et Abel as published by the Revue de l’Art ancien et moderne, and also a second, published in 1876 by the Gazette des Beaux-Arts. Until recently required to look closely at these two prints, I had assumed they were both editions of the same etched plate, one more contrasty than the other, and that the prior publication of the etching in the Gazette had simply been overlooked. But I now realise that they are in fact two different etchings, bringing Falguière’s meagre total of original prints up to three.

Alexandre Falguière, Caïn et Abel
as published by the Gazette des Beaux-Arts in 1876
unsigned but with printed credits below

The version published in 1876 has the figures of Cain and Abel emerging in a dazzle of light from a fiercely cross-hatched gloom, and bears no signature. The version published in 1902 is signed and dated in the plate, and in it the murderer Cain merges with the dark background, while the light falls on the body of his victim. Both versions are very powerful – the 1876 more intense, the 1902 freer and wilder.

Alexandre Falguière, Caïn et Abel
as published by the Revue de l'Art ancien et moderne in 1902
signed and dated in the plate

Falguière’s interest in etching seems to have been short-lived, which is a shame as all three of these prints show an impressive natural command of the medium. My feeling is that he used these three etching plates to explore his ideas about subjects he was intending to treat in other media (Les nains mendiants as a painting, and Caïn et Abel as a sculpture and as a painting), so that they are essentially preliminary studies rather than etchings after finished works.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

First Impressions

I’ve posted before about the journal Paris à l’eau-forte, a literary journal illustrated with original etchings which was edited and published by Richard Lesclide between 1873 and 1876. I’ve unfortunately never managed to see a complete run of all 11 volumes of this short-lived revue. I have volumes 1-3, for which the art editor was Frédéric Regamey, and volumes 9-11, for which the art editor was Henri Guérard. All the etchings are printed by Delâtre, but in the early volumes they are printed on china paper mounted onto the pages of the journal (in the technique known as chine collé or chine appliqué), and for the most part integrated with the text, while in the later ones (from volume 5) they are printed on Hollande laid paper, and are presented hors-texte. A recent purchase of volume 4 shows that Regamey had left, but Guérard had not yet arrived. Paris à l’eau-forte is a fairly obscure publication, and I don’t think it has been fully realised how supportive the journal was of Impressionism. From the beginning, the support of Dr Paul Gachet gave access to a wide circle of Impressionist artists.

Armand Guillaumin, La Seine à Bercy
Etching, published in Paris à l'eau-forte no. 22,  24 August 1873
Kraemer D 7b

By the end, with Guérard—a close friend of Manet, and husband of the Impressionist painter Eva Gonzalès—at the helm, the revue is packed full of Impressionist works. Volume 11, for instance, featured etchings by Norbert Goeneutte, Félix Buhot, Louis Forain, and Henry Somm, as well as Henri Guérard himself. If the journal had continued, we may well have been left a rich legacy of Impressionist etchings; but it folded, removing one of the few sympathetic outlets for etched work in this revolutionary new style. Under the art direction of Regamey, Paris à l’eau-forte published no fewer than 11 etchings in the Impressionist style by Armand Guillaumin (1841-1927) in the months before the First Impressionist Exhibition, and a twelfth just a fortnight after the exhibition opened. Because at this period the revue did not name the etchers whose work it featured, it took some detective work to identify these, but I am confident that we have, in these modest etchings by Guillaumin, a record of the first true encounter between Impressionism and the wider French public.

Armand Guillaumin, La banlieu de Charonne
Etching, published in Paris à l'eau-forte no. 22, 24 August 1873
Kraemer D 7c

The First Impressionist Exhibition opened on 15 April 1874. Over 30 of the works on display were etchings by Félix Bracquemond, husband of the female Impressionist Marie Bracquemond. Among the painters, the acknowledged leaders of the new group—all regarded as the disciples of Manet, who did not exhibit—were Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Pissarro, Sisley, Berthe Morisot, and Armand Guillaumin. When Théodore Duret published his groundbreaking Histoire des Peintres Impressionistes in 1878, these were the artists he discussed (with the omission of Degas, for some reason).

Armand Guillaumin, Route d'Allemagne
Etching, published in Paris à l'eau-forte no. 23, 31 August 1873
Kraemer D 7d

It is hard to imagine Armand Guillaumin (who had three paintings in the first exhibition, and I believe showed work in all the subsequent ones) receiving quite such extensive coverage in a book on Impressionism now. His art is often overlooked, by critics, curators, and public alike. But I admire Guillaumin. His vivid colours anticipate and echo those of his friends Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, and also influenced the thinking of the Fauves, especially Matisse and Othon Friesz.

Armand Guillaumin, La Seine vue de Charenton
Etching, published in Paris à l'eau-forte no, 23, 31 August 1873
Kraemer D 7i

Jean-Baptiste Armand Guillaumin came from a humble background. In 1861 he gave up his job in his uncle’s lingerie store to study for two years at the Académie Suisse, where he met his lifelong friends Cézanne and Pissarro. But he could not afford to paint full-time, and instead worked the night shift in the Department of Bridges and Causeways in order to support himself and have the daylight in which to paint. He only became financially independent at the age of 50, not through artistic success but through a massive win on the national lottery of 100,000 gold francs.

Armand Guillaumin, La ruelle Barrault
Etching, published in Paris à l'eau-forte no. 23, 31 August 1873
Kraemer D 10a

Paris à l’eau-forte launched in 1873, the year after Armand Guillaumin, Paul Cézanne, and Camille Pissarro were making their first etchings in the Auvers studio of Dr Paul Gachet. It was likely Gachet (another contributor, and a major supporter of Paris à l’eau-forte) who introduced Guillaumin to the journal’s editors.

Armand Guillaumin, Le marais de Vitry
Etching, published in Paris à l'eau-forte no. 23, 31 August 1873
Kraemer D 7g

The first Guillaumin etchings appeared in issue 22, published on 24 August 1873. The first on 24 August is entitled La Seine à Bercy, which is unsigned; the second, La banlieue de Charonne, is signed with Guillaumin’s monogram (his initials, reversed by the etching process). The next issue, on 31 August, featured five further etchings: La route d’Allemagne, La Seine vue de Charenton (both unsigned), and La ruelle Barrault (signed Guillaumin in the plate), Le marais de Vitry (signed with the monogram), and Le chemin des hautes-bruyères. This is signed with the same monogram, but this time reading correctly, showing that Guillaumin had now worked out how to reverse it on the plate, though the title etched in the plate below is a hopeless mix of correct and reversed letters.

Armand Guillaumin, Chemin des Hautes-Bruyères
Etching, published in Paris à l'eau-forte no. 23, 31 August 1873
Kraemer D 10d

On 28 September appeared L’île de Casseuil, Gironde (signed with the monogram and titled La Plâtrière in the plate). On 26 October, Une marine à Charenton (unsigned). On 2 November, Dans les hautes herbes (signed with the monogram and titled Bas Meudon in the plate). And finally on 9 November, Entrée de village, also known as Une longue route (signed with the reversed monogram).

Armand Guillaumin, La plâtrière, ou L'île de Casseuil
Etching, published in Paris à l'eau-forte no. 27, 28 September 1873
Kraemer D 10c

I don’t claim these 11 etchings as masterpieces. Guillaumin is clearly still mastering the technique, and there are some clumsy passages, but they do show great verve. Both in style and subject matter (for instance the smoking factory chimneys in both La Seine, vue de Charenton, Une marine à Charenton, and Dans les hautes herbes (Bas Meudon) they are typical of early Impressionism. In fact I would say that these etchings of the 1870s are among Guillaumin's most important prints, expressing as they do the fresh inspiration of Impressionism-in-the-making.

Armand Guillaumin, Une marine à Charenton
Etching, published in Paris à l'eau-forte no. 31, 26 October 1873
Kraemer D 7b

I don’t think I would ever have worked out who the artist was if it had not been for the faint “Guillaumin” etched with a drypoint needle in the bottom right corner of La ruelle Barrault—and thereby hangs a tale. For I have two copies of this print. In one, the signature is present; in the second, the person responsible for trimming the china paper to size has sheered off a tiny fraction more along the bottom of the etching, and the signature has disappeared... So without the duplicate, I doubt I would have been able to identify the author of these etchings.

Guillaumin's etched signature on La ruelle Barrault

Michel Melot in his L’estampe impressioniste (1974) writes of Guillaumin’s etching Chemin creux aux hautes bruyères, vallée de la Biévre, that it is “griffonnée nerveusement, brutalement mordue, bien dans le style des croquis à l’eau-forte exécutés par Van Ryssel, puis par Cézanne et Pissarro au retour des promenades dans la vallée de la Biévre”: hastily sketched, brutally bitten, very much in the style of the etched sketches executed by Van Ryssel [the artistic pseudonym of Dr Gachet], and later by Cézanne and Pissarro on returning from walks in the valley of the Biévre. The phrase “griffonnée nerveusement” is hard to translate satisfactorily. Griffonnée means hastily sketched or scribbled; nerveusement could mean nervously, but I believe in this context probably means vigorously.

Armand Guillaumin, Bas Meudon ou Dans les hautes herbes
Etching, published in Paris à l'eau-forte no. 32, 2 November 1873
Kraemer D 7f

Since writing the above, I have managed to get hold of the book Vom Spiel der Farbe: Armand Guillaumin, ein vergessener Impressionist, edited by Rainer Budde (Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, 1996), with a catalogue raisonné of Guillaumin’s graphic work by Gilles Kraemer, source of the reference numbers above. What is most interesting for me to discover is that all twelve of my etchings were etched on just two copper plates. The first (D 7 in the catalogue) has nine small subjects, of which one (Le lavoir) does not seem to have been used in Paris à l’eau-forte. They are: Le lavoir, La Seine à Bercy, La banlieue de Charonne, Route d’Allemagne extérieure, Entrée de village, Bas Meudon (Dans le hautes herbes), Les marais de Vitry, Une marine à Charenton, and La Seine à Charenton. The second (D 10 in the catalogue), contains La ruelle Barrault, Bicêtre et Chemin des barons, La platrière, and Chemin des Hautes-Bruyères. Gilles Kraemer seems to have missed the publication of both Entrée de village and Bicêtre in Paris à l'eau-forte, an entirely understandable oversight in view of the almost deliberately confusing and uninformative layout of this remarkable revue.

Armand Guillaumin, Entrée du village
Etching, published in Paris à l'eau-forte no. 33, 9 November 1873
Kraemer D 7e

While I have owned the first 11 Guillaumin etchings for some time, I have only recently acquired a copy of volume 4 of Paris à l’eau-forte. Frédéric Regamey is no longer the art editor, though he still supplies some etchings; it appears he has moved to England. No replacement is announced. The etchings in this volume are still printed chine appliqué, but Lesclide announces that, because of complaints about the rather sloppy execution of this work, resulting in creases and other faults (at least one etching in my volumes is stuck in upside down), from vol. 5 all the etchings will be separately printed on laid Hollande paper, as they are in vols. 9-11. Volume 4 has one further Guillaumin etching, signed and titled in the plate, Bicêtre & Chemin des Barons. The First Impressionist Exhibition opened, as I noted above, on 15 April 1874. The etching appears in issue 56, published on Sunday 3 May 1874, and is introduced by Richard Lesclide with the words, “Enfin M. Guillaumin, dont les tableaux font sensation à l’Exposition du boulevard des Capucines, nous a donné une vue de Bicêtre et des terrains vagues qui l’entourent. Cela a un caractère de désolation sinistre qu’il suffit d’indiquer.” I don’t think you can get closer to the earthquake of Impressionism than an etching by one of the founders of the movement, published within a fortnight of the first exhibition, with mention of the sensation of that exhibition but no acceptance yet of the word Impressionist.

Armand Guillaumin, Bicêtre et chemin des barons
Etching, published in Paris à l'eau-forte no. 56, 3 May 1874
Kraemer D 10b

The issue for 19 April 1874 has a review of the First Impressionist Exhibition, under its official title, Exposition de la Société Anonyme des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs et Lithographes, by C. de Malte. This enthusiastic article gives the lie to the accepted notion that all reactions to the exhibition were scathing and dismissive. I’ll give a rough translation of just some of it, to give an idea of the tone: “Above all, this exhibition resembles an ambush by colourists; the brilliant tones, hot, silvery, lively, luminous, await you round every corner, surprise you and in the end seduce you. It is an ambuscade of radiant colours.” The reader is urged to visit “ce feu d’artifice de palettes enragées”—this firework display of furious palettes. Monet is praised for expressing “des éblouissements d’impression”—dazzling impressions.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone

I wish all readers of this blog a peaceful and happy time over the holiday season.

Auguste Richter, Kind und tannenbaum
Child and Christmas tree
Linocut, 1922
Made in Franz Cisek's youth class
at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Vienna

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another mystery solved

When I posted a while ago about the special copy of L'Art Belge for 1933 that I had acquired, with 20 original prints by various hands, I had several nagging queries, mostly about attribution. That was copy XVII, and all except 5 prints were hand-signed by the artists, the exceptions being Armand Rassenfosse (signed in the plate and stamped with his studio stamp), Auguste Oleffe (signed in the plate), and Alfred Delaunois, Marc-Henry Meunier, and Victor Mignot, whose etchings were all annotated in the same hand, "par Delaunois" and so on. I speculated that the etchings had been added from stock by the art dealer Isy Brachot, the publisher of L'Art Belge.

I was particularly concerned about one etching with aquatint, a canal scene (in Bruges, I think) which had been attributed to Paul Hermans. The signature didn't look right to me, and indeed since then I have seen signed work by Hermans and was quite certain that it was not by him. Anyway, I have been able to buy another of these special copies of the same issue of L'Art Belge (this time copy XXX, printed for Marcel Grafé) and various things have become much clearer. It too, contains copies of the same 20 prints. But by copy XXX, Brachot seems to have been running out of signed copies of various of the etchings, and there are several more pencil annotations "par So-and-So". The etchings by William Ablett, Manuel Robbe, Camille Barthélemy, and "Hermans" have lost their signatures, and the "Hermans" is clearly marked: "par Sterkers".

Robert Sterkers, Les bouquinistes
Etching with aquatint, c.1946

Now I happen to have a portfolio of 12 signed colour etchings with aquatint of Paris by the artist Robert Sterkers, published by L'Estampe Moderne c.1946. I rushed to this and lo and behold! the signatures match. So little is currently known about Robert Sterkers that I am not sure of his nationality, or his dates of birth or death. I assume now that he was Belgian, but most of what I know of him places him in Paris just after WWII, when in just a few years he produced an incredible amount of work. Between 1944 and 1948 he published a stream of books and print portfolios illustrated with original etchings. Several were published by L'Estampe Moderne, including Montmartre, with text by Pierre Mac Orlan, À travers les vieilles églises de Paris and Paris medieval by Louis Hautecoeur, Eaux et fontaines de Paris by Paul Léon, and Paris: 12 eaux-fortes originales en couleurs. Other works of this period include etchings for Au pied du Ventoux by Gabriel Fauré, and Bretagne aux cent visages by Roger Vercel. Sterkers also made etchings after drawings and watercolours by others, notably after Isa Kyprianna for Mimes des courtisanes, and after Gaston Barret for Marcel Pagnol's Topaze.

Robert Sterkers, Rue des Francs-Bourgeois
Etching with aquatint c.1946

Aside from his etchings, Robert Sterkers is noted for his watercolours, produced on sketching trips to Brittany, the Antilles, and elsewhere, and exhibited in both Paris and Brussels. I look forward to finding out more about him in due course.

Robert Sterkers, Fontaine Médicis
Etching with aquatint, 1946

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Czech graphics of the 1970s

In the 1970s I remember a great deal of interest in the west in writers behind the iron curtain, but almost none in artists. It was just assumed that all artists in the Eastern bloc were producing soulless socialist realism or figurative kitsch. So it has been fascinating for me to acquire work by what seems a representative sample of Czech printmakers from that decade, all published in the Danish art revue International Grafik, edited between 1969 and 1980 by Helmer Fogedgaard and Klaus Rödel. International Grafik was an altruistic labour of love. It published almost exclusively woodcuts, wood engravings, and linocuts, printed from the original blocks or plates, in a numbered edition of 1000 copies. No doubt many important artists are unrepresented in its pages, especially those who specialized in etching and engraving, but there are enough artists here to at least get a flavour of the currents of Czech art at this time. All of the Czech artists contributing to International grafic were doing so from inside the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

International Grafik no. 30, 1980
(This was the final issue, entirely devoted to the Czech artist Miroslav Matous)

The first surprise is that in the decade after the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968, Czech artists were not retreating into safe figurative images on socialist themes, but were instead diving headfirst into experiment and abstraction. These are not cowed voices, but confident and progressive ones. Maybe in the period of “normalization” that followed the overthrow of Alexander Dubček’s reformist government there were too many other people to police, and the graphic artists somehow operated under the radar of government surveillance. I’d be very interested to hear from anyone with memories of the cultural atmosphere of this time.

Jaroslav Vodrázka, Wood engraving
International Grafik 17, 1973

Jaroslav Vodrázka, 3-colour linocut
International Grafik 17, 1973

The graphic artist Jaroslav Vodrázka  was born in Prague in 1894. He studied at the School of Applied Art, and then at the Academy of Visual Arts under Max Svabinsky. Jaroslav Vodrázka himself became a professor of graphics. He produced wood engravings, linocuts, etchings, engravings, and lithographs, and was always interested in exploring new printmaking techniques, using materials such as plastic and plexiglass. Although he lived until 1984, Vodrázka remained rooted in figurative art, creating images of peasants, landscapes, and religious scenes.

Jaroslav Sváb, Achse
International Grafik 6, 1970

Jaroslav Sváb, Grafik
Two-colour linocut
International Grafik 6, 1970

Jaroslav Sváb was born in Hodonin in 1906. His work veers from severe geometric abstraction to curvaceous Art Nouveau-influenced patterns based on organic forms, including the human body. Sváb is known for his linocuts and wood engravings, including engraved bookplates, and also as a designer of dust jackets for books. He died in Prague in 1999.

Josef Weiser, Frühling
International Grafik 20, 1973

Josef Weiser, Linocut, 1971
International Grafik 20, 1973

The graphic artist, art teacher, and art theorist Josef Weiser was born in Switzerland in 1914, but moved with his parents to Moravia during WWI. In 1933 he became a teacher, and from 1950-1958 was a professor of art education in the teacher training college in Olomouc. Subsequently he became head of art teaching at the institute of advanced education for teachers in Olomouc. Besides his original graphics, Josef Weiser is also known for his bookplates. Weiser, too, remained a figurative artist; in the linocuts published by International Grafik, the predominant motif is that of a rather idealised young woman. He died in 1994.

Olga Cechová, Die weisse Figur
International Grafik18, 1973

Olga Cechová, Die schwarze Figur
International Grafik 18, 1973

The graphic artist Olga Čechová was born in 1925. She studied at the school of applied art in Brno from 1941-1944 and at the high school of applied art in Prague from 1945-1950. Here she was invited join the exclusive society of Czech graphic artists, Hollar. Olga Čechová was also a member of the avant-garde group Trasa. Her boldly expressionistic woodcuts seem to me to have a strong feminist message.

Ladislav Rusek. Linocut, 1969
International Grafik 4, 1969

Ladislav Rusek, Linocut, 1965
International Grafik 4, 1969

Ladislav Rusek, Scherzo
International Grafik 21, 1974

The printmaker Ladislav Rusek was born in Olomouc in 1927. He studied at the university, where he was eventually to be made Professor of Graphics. Ladislav Rusek was particularly fond of the linocut, though he also produced wood engravings and etchings. His work was influenced by Jugendstil. Rusek is particularly known as an engraver of ex libris. His engravings tend towards abstraction while retaining symbolic forms and human figures.

Dusan Janousek, Wood engraving
International Grafik 3, 1969

Dusan Janousek, Wood engraving
International Grafik 3, 1969

Dusan Janousek was born in 1928 in Prostejov. He studied at the school of applied art in Brno and at the Komensky University in Bratislava. He taught graphics at the Palacky University in Olomouc. His white line engravings are either human figures verging on abstraction, or completely abstract.

Miroslav Houra, Prometheus
International Grafik 18, 1973

Miroslav Houra, Kosmos
International Grafik 18, 1973

Miroslav Houra, Charon
International Grafik 18, 1983

The painter and printmaker Miroslav Houra was born in 1933 in Krhanice upon Sázava. He studied at the school of applied art in Prague, and at the Karl University in Prague. He taught in the teacher training faculty at the university in Ustinad Labem. Miroslav Houra was a member of the artists' associations Okjekt and Hollar. He had his first solo show in 1960, and later exhibited in many international exhibitions. Miroslav Houra's colour linocuts are both technically and aesthetically remarkable. Of course they appeal to me because of the way they use mythology to explore cosmic truth.

Ratislav Michal, Wood engraving
International Grafik 15, 1972

Ratislav Michal, Wood engraving
International Grafik 15, 1972

The painter, graphic artist, and designer of bookplates Ratislav Michal was born in 1936. He studied at the Academy of Pictorial Arts in Prague, graduating in 1961. Ratislav Michal had his first solo exhibition in 1964. He is known especially for his wood engravings of the female nude.

Jana Krejcová, Bei Prachatice II
International Grafik 23, 1974

Jana Krejcová, Edelmannpalast, Olomouc
International Grafik 23, 1974

Jana Krejčová was born in Bruntál in Nordmähren in 1946. She trained in painting and graphics at the art school in Olomouc. She remained in Olomouc, working as a technical editor at the Palacky University, and creating linocuts inspired by the architecture of the town and by Czech folk art. Jana Krejčová is also renowned as a designer of bookplates.

Miroslav Matous, Linocut
International Grafik 30, 1980

Miroslav Matous, Linocut
International Grafik 30, 1980

Lastly, Miroslav Matous was born in Zdárky in eastern Bohemia in 1920. Known as painter, printmaker, tapestry designer and architect, Miroslav Matous attended the Mánes School for painting, studying under Vladimír Sychra. As a printmaker, Miroslav Matous is known for lithographs, drypoints, etchings, linocuts, and woodcuts. From the evidence of these prints, the 1960s had definitely arrived in Czechoslovakia by 1980!