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Rough Cuts
European Figurative Prints from Gauguin to Paladino
A National Gallery of Australia travelling exhibition

introduction | essay | selected works | education | itinerary

E.L. KIRCHNER 'Unterhaltung von drei Frauen [Conversation between three women]' 1907 colour woodcut From the Anthony R. Berg family gift to the National Gallery of Australia 1994E.L. Kirchner  'Unterhaltung von drei Frauen [Conversation between three women]' 1907 colour woodcut From the Anthony R. Berg family gift to the National Gallery of Australia 1994 click to enlarge

 

The aim of Rough Cuts: European Figurative Prints from Gauguin to Paladino is to look at two groups of print-works; not only in terms of their figurative content but also their working methods and surface aesthetic. The first group is the early period of ‘German’ Expressionism, from approximately 1895 to 1925, and the later European neo-figurative period of the 1970s and 1980s.

The earlier period includes artists from the famous Die Brücke group: Erich Heckel, E.L. Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, as well as two of their precursors, Paul Gauguin and Edvard Munch. The later group includes works by the German artists Jörg Immendorff, A.R. Penck and Georg Baselitz, and the Italians Francesco Clemente, Sandro Chia, Mimmo Paladino and Enzo Cucchi.

The artists of Die Brücke sought to harness emotion in all its expressive force by creating works whose surface aesthetic manifested the very emotional content they aimed to express – rough, primitive, elemental, hand-made. They often used found pieces of unfinished timber for their woodblocks, or re-cycled discarded lithographic stones with all their breaks and imperfections.


This early period of Expressionism produced some of the most astonishing images in the history of art using the most rudimentary techniques. This form of Expressionism, however, had not exhausted itself in terms of its content or visual aesthetic. During the 1970s and 1980s, as a reaction against a decade or so of Abstraction, there was a return to a figurative-based art using similarly ‘primitive’ techniques in the form of a ‘new’ or ‘neo’-Expressionism in Germany, while in Italy the artists of the Transavanguardia, artists such as Clemente, Chia, Cucchi and Paladino, embarked on a new, highly personalised, and different form of lyrical neo-expressionism.

Rough Cuts contrasts this group of works, both in terms of its content and in terms of its style. In doing so, it highlights the extraordinary riches of the National Gallery of Australia’s International Print collection.

 

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