The inventory at the Annex Galleries is quite large. Monumental, perhaps. The range of styles, genres, techniques, and number of artists — known and unknown — has become a semi-organized chaos that we all love dearly but sometimes can’t navigate. This feeling of vast, uncharted depth certainly carries over to visitors of the gallery and website alike.
In an attempt to add some organization for those wishing to peruse the inventory, we’ve been curating and emailing small exhibitions that sample one subject, technique, or genre at a time, using 25 works per list. The hope is that this will help broaden the perspective of and appreciation for the fine art of printmaking and all that it has to offer the art world. We will periodically post these mini-shows on our blog, with links and information on each piece. As usual, we look forward to any questions you might have.
25 American Color Woodcuts
Anders Aldrin (Swiss/Amer.: 1889 – 1970): The Bouquet, ca. 1935; color woodcut; pencil signed. Aldrin, like Arthur Dow, often printed each impression uniquely, dramatic color changes providing different moods. He was born in Sweden and immigrated to the U.S. in 1911, eventually calling California his home.
Gustave Baumann (American: 1881 – 1971): Past History, 1946; color woodcut; pencil signed. Baumann, originally from Germany, fell in love with the Southwest’s vivid landscapes and ancient dwellings long after he’d immigrated to the U.S. This piece depicts a sheer cliff wall in El Rito de los Frijoles Canyon, lined with pictographs, crumbling under the weight of time.
Cora Boone (American: 1871 – 1953): Ranunculus, ca. 1930; color white-line woodcut; pencil signed. Boone’s painterly technique and use of rich colors lent a softness to her white line woodcuts, in the manner of her mentor Blanche Lazell. This piece may have been done for an exhibition of her work.
Elizabeth Eaton Burton (American: 1869 – 1937): Untitled (woman with lotuses), ca. 1920; color woodcut; pencil signed. Burton learned various arts and crafts skills from her father, who she would begin exhibiting with at an early age. As shown in this piece, Burton, like her contemporaries, was a great admirer of Japanese Ukiyo-e color woodcuts.
Elizabeth Aline Colborne (1885 – 1948): Lumber Mills, Bellingham Bay (Washington), ca. 1933; color woodcut; pencil signed. A beautiful depiction of a reflected sunset along the bay where Colborne eventually settled, in 1933. She participated in the WPA and became a member of the National Association of Woman Artists. Her love of the play between dramatic light and deep shadow was always evident in her rich landscape woodcuts.
Worden Day (1912 – 1986): Primeval World, 1947; color woodcut; pencil signed. Worden Day studied at Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17 in New York. For this print she incorporated the grain of the plank into the abstract composition, lending a sense of flow within its chaos.
Werner Drewes (1899 – 1985): Camden Harbor, Maine, 1954; color woodcut; pencil signed. A student of Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, Drewes pursued abstract expressionism, and a balance of color with mood, in his art long after he immigrated from Europe to the United States. In this composition, a warmth and calm resonates even in the shadows.
Helen Hyde (1868 – 1919): Little Pink Plum, 1913; color woodcut; pencil signed. Helen Hyde, like her contemporary Elizabeth Eaton Burton, was a student of the Ukiyo-E school of color woodcut technique. Hyde’s exposure to Japonism and the art of Japanese woodcut techniques in the late 1880s led to her delicate, tenderly rendered images of daily life in the many countries she visited.
Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905 – 1987) Fishing Boats, 1931; color woodcut; pencil signed. Kelsey studied color woodcut with Frank Morley Fletcher in Santa Barbara. This woodcut of fishing boats was probably done in San Diego, and like much of his work, emphasizes the lighting as a means to display the mood, and the subtle curves of the waves to give it movement.
Anthony La Paglia (1908 – 1985): Two Birds on a Branch, ca. 1930; color woodcut; pencil signed. Little is known about this accomplished artist, who was born in New York, and died in California. Few exhibition listings and collections are mentioned, but his work shows a keen eye for detail. An interesting blog on the artist, here.
Blanche Lazell (1879 – 1956): Daisies, 1932; white line color woodcut; pencil signed. A very rare piece from a listed edition of only four impressions. Lazzell was considered an early Modernist, her work often showing distinctive abstract elements. Because of her method of printmaking, each image stands alone in its beauty, often saturated in color, and always an elegant portrayal of form and substance.
Ethel Mars (1876 – 1956): Old Horse, ca. 1915; color woodcut; pencil signed. A life rich with artistic exploration, both in the burgeoning Fauvist scene of Paris and in the quieter colony of Prvincetown, Mass., made Mars an extraordinary female artist of her time. This piece depicts a simple, quiet street scene with a horse and cart, in the warm shades of a French village in summer, perhaps.
Gordon Mortensen (born 1938): North Dakota Prairies, 1982; color reduction woodcut; pencil signed. A master of detail, with an eye for capturing the light of arid plains and bright seaside landscapes alike, Mortensen utilizes the “reduction” woodcutting technique, wherein he destroys the plate while creating each layer of color, one shade at a time.
Seong Moy (born 1921) Evi-O #2, 1982/83; color woodcut and screenprint with gold leaf detail; pencil signed. Moy’s distinctly Modernist style, and his extraordinary ability to achieve bold yet delicately layered movement from the woodblocks, is wonderfully illustrated in “Evi-O #2”.
Mary Mullineux (1875 – 1965): A Crowded Beach, ca. 1925; white-line color woodcut; pencil signed. An exceptional example of the color white-line method developed in Provincetown in the early 20th century, this vivid image delightfully depicts an East Coast summer. This print is accompanied with a second state from the block, printed in black and white.
Elizabeth Norton (1887 – 1985): Study in Black and Tan, 1932; color woodcut; pencil signed. Norton’s lifelong love of animals is evident in her vast body of woodcuts revolving around specimens both wild and domestic. As shown in this piece, the backgrounds in her animal prints were often minimalistic, focusing mainly on the subject at hand.
Chiura Obata (Chinese/American: 1885 – 1975): Passing Rain, 1930; color woodcut; unsigned. Obata’s extraordinary ability to coax a watercolor-like quality from the wood and inks he used is perfectly illustrated in this rain-drenched landscape. The print, from a the portfolio “World Landscape Series, America”, required 114 printing sequences.
Walter Joseph Phillips (1884 – 1963): Fall, Assiniboine River, 1931; color woodcut; pencil signed. Phillips’ printmaking career began primarily with etching; he didn’t discover his love of woodcuts until 1917, when he abandoned all other printmaking media for it. This image illustrates the countryside near the English-born artist’s adopted home, Manitoba.
Fred Rappaport (1912 – 1989): Untitled (City), ca. 1960; color woodcut and stencil; signed in white crayon. Rappaport was born and educated in Vienna. After many years of travel in pursuit of a career, changing with the tide of war and family expectation, Rappaport settled in Chicago. There, he explored the Abstract genre in various media. “City” may have been inspired by the time he spent in Israel.
William Seltzer Rice (1873 – 1963): Magnolia Grandiflora, ca. 1925; color woodcut; pencil signed. An etcher, painter, and one of the leaders of the Arts and Crafts color woodcut movement, Rice was also an amateur botanist. His depictions of the flora and fauna he studied aren’t as abundant as his landscapes, but they are remarkable, and perhaps more elegant in their simplicity.
Luigi Rist (1888 – 1959): Pear, 1959; color woodcut; pencil signed. One of Rist’s last woodcuts, this print is from 4 blocks and is a classic example of Rist’s dedication to illuminating everyday objects — using light and shadow to produce smooth curvature; deftly recreating each object’s textures; striving to make each print something lovely to behold.
Micah Schwaberow (born 1948): Festival of Light (for Sanae), 2002; color woodcut; pencil signed. Schwaberow studied color woodcut technique in Japan with noted printmaker Toshi Yoshida. He is known for his small, tenderly rendered landscapes, most notably those of the Pacific Northwest. This piece, in soft golds, reds, and indigo, glows with the light of the sunset that it depicts.
Doris Seidler (1912 – 2010): Composition X, 1963; color woodcut; pencil signed. British born, Seidler studied printmaking with Stanley William Hayter at his Atelier 17 in New York. This large, gestural expressionist piece was done using plywood and bold colors, and Seidler’s elegant depiction of controlled chaos — indicative of the departure by so many midcentury artists from the representational into the abstract.