Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reviving a memory

Anselm Kiefer The Rhine (Melancholia) image from here
Spurred by Eirene's post on Sigmar Polke I started remembering German artists whose work I admire - but I do not think of artists by nationality normally, and so it was only when I was thinking further about Kiefer's wondrous woodcuts in the Royal Academy exhibition (see some above) that the image of Matthias Mansen' Das Haus prompted me to explore more about both him and Kiefer's woodcuts.
Matthias Mansen About the house  image from here

Image above, and more information about woodcut illustrations here.

German woodcuts were attractive to me as an illustrative medium first, always striking me a having the drama which so many other illustrations lacked.  And I mean woodcuts rather than wood engravings.  I admired the latter, but they lacked joy for me. 
Woodcuts in the British Museum collection (images from here)

As a child early religious illustrations in woodcut such as these always struck me like stills from animations of icons.  My admiration of woodcuts continued as part of my general interest in art, not becoming separately specifically interested until I became drawn to the image by Matthias Mansen above.
A young friend who was at art college at the time saw an exhibition of the woodcuts at the Alan Cristea Gallery in London in 1998.  I am sorry to say that I have never actually seen any of Mansen's work other than in reproduction.  The friend gave me a gatefold card of About the house, and I was smitten - I have had the card up on my pin board ever since.  However, it would be several years, not until 2011 before I explored printmaking for myself.
Matthias Mansen: Gehen 1994 (image from here)

In this recent exploration of Mansen's work I am delighted to find that he too is interested in combining, as is Kiefer, though in different ways.  Anyone with sufficient interest, and a bit of time can read a fascinating article here.  And there is a quick introduction to the About the house exhibition here


  1. Thank you for the link to another review and more images of the Kiefer exhibition!

    Matthias Mansen is new to me. I can see why you like his work for he deals with the figure in a very similar way to you. An inspiring find for you. I enjoyed all the links, thanks, Olga!

  2. Thank you Marja-Leena. I'm glad you enjoyed the links.

  3. Olga, you are right about the drama of woodcuts and like you, I grew up with woodcut illustrations in books that I read or just browsed.

    Matthias Mansen's work looks very interesting, another artist I had not come across before. Gehen is such a powerful image, a modern take on Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, I thought.