Woodcut and Linocut


A printmaking technique in which an image is carved into a block of wood or linoleum; the surface of the block is then inked with a roller and printed, leaving an image only where the block has not been carved away. Woodcut is the oldest printmaking technique, originating in China and reaching the West in the 13th century; the linocut was invented in the late 19th century. The bold mark of a woodcut and the (often apparent) wood grain impression contrasts the more fluid mark of the linocut. During the 15th century, German artist Albrecht Dürer mastered the technique of carving into wood, finessing the vigorous woodcut mark into articulated fine lines; centuries later, Expressionists like Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Emil Nolde would revive the German woodcut tradition, exploring the medium’s graphic potential with more aggressive marks and flat planes of color. Japanese woodcuts markedly influenced European artists into the 19th century, including Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, who were inspired to incorporate asymmetric compositions, patterns, and flat color into their paintings and prints.

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