German Expressionism is famous for the brutal woodcut and linocut prints made by those the Nazis branded “degenerate” artists. And yet engraving or cutting wood goes deep into the heart of German art. Albrecht Dürer’s engravings marked the pinnacle of Renaissance excellence. But my favorite period, when the lino was at its best, was around 1905 with the founding of Die Brücke (The Bridge), by members Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, and later Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Otto Mueller.
This was the principle group of artists that evolved into the political wing from which emerged (in 1911) the magazine Die Aktion: The Weekly Periodical for Politics, Literature and Art. I was so taken with the name and publication that in 1978 I founded Die Aktion Publishers (my only publication was The Art of Simplicissimus catalog on this page). The idea of making art by cutting material like linoleum was always something I wanted to do. Linocuts come in and out of fashion. When I found this kit for young linocutters I realized it’s about time it came back into fashion. For Seymour Chwast, who received this set for Christmas, linocuts have never gone stale.
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