Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, ‘Russian Forest | Russisches Wald’, 1918, Gilden's Art Gallery

This original woodcut is hand signed in pencil by the artist "S. Rottluff" at the lower right margin.
The printer was Fritz Voigt, Berlin.
The sheet bears the work number [Werknummer] 1829.

It was in 1905, whilst in Dresden and enrolled on an architecture course that Karl Schmidt-Rottluff began to experiment with the woodcut technique. The technique itself is synonymous with Germanic artistic traditions. The tactile essence and fragility of the medium as well as the reductive nature of carving in relief was likely a habitual calm for the artist’s nerves during his time on the Eastern front and following his return to Berlin. Whilst the material may be soft and conquerable, the stark black inked images are robust, sharp and dominant. The artist’s own response to the war can be seen clearly even in mundane scenes of civilian life. Schmidt-Rottluff proclaimed, “I really feel pressure to create something that is as strong as possible. The war has really swept away everything from the past.” His woodcuts embody this resilient spirit.

Literature: Schapire, R. & Rathenau, E. (1987). Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: Das Graphische Werk Bis 1923. Berlin: Vormals Euphorion Verlag.
Reference: Schapire H. 230.

Condition: Very good condition. Pinpoint foxing across the sheet. Soft creasing across the sheet. Some tape remains, verso.

About Karl Schmidt-Rottluff

Like many of his German Expressionist peers, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff painted intensely colored, gestural landscapes in oil and watercolor, drawing influence from the Neo-Impressionists and the Fauves. This early style, exemplified by Manor House in Dangast (1910), gave way to a more reductive, strongly constructed style with more clear outlines and subtler coloration. A member of Die Brücke, he popularized lithography amongst the group—his high-contrast graphic works featured an angular style that would carry into his later painting style. He was known for using the grain of the wood to emphasize surface in his woodcuts; among his woodcut masterpieces are “Holzeschnitte” (1918), a series based on the life of Christ, which he produced after serving in World War I. Schmidt-Rottluff also experimented with sculpture carved in wood.

German, 1884-1976, Rottluff, Germany, based in Berlin, Germany