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Fremont Ellis Landscapes and Gustave Baumann Woodblock Prints
A new exhibit is on display in Gallery 5 at the Stark Museum of Art featuring Fremont Ellis Landscapes and Gustave Baumann Woodblock Prints. This exhibit will be on view through July 2003 with the addition in September of an exhibit showing the woodblock print method.
Fremont Ellis's life as a painter started at the early age of thirteen when he unwillingly visited the Metropolitan Museum in New York. According to Ellis, "it was like if you had never seen very well, things were kinda blurred -- then suddenly, by some miracle, you could see all the leaves on the trees, and everything. It opened up a whole new world." Visiting the museum daily he would memorize the paintings and later copy them at home. It was through this process that Ellis taught himself to paint. (right: Fremont Ellis (1897-1985), Large Snow Scene or Winter Evening, oil on canvas, 29 x 36 inches, Stark Museum of Art, 31.20/24)
The next life-changing experience occurred when he visited Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1919. He fell in love with the land and the people, The landscapes were crisp, sharp, and colorful. He knew he would have to make this his home. He joined four other young painters "Los Cinco Pintores" or " The Five Painters" as they were called, for the purpose of exhibiting and selling their work. He spent the next 65 years painting and experimenting with techniques, executing many of his landscapes in heavy impasto describing the essential aspects of the scene with little reference to specific details. He would paint entirely from memory. He said, "A painting done on the spot can sometimes become too literal." He is aptly called an American Impressionist. He received many awards, and his works are represented in museums and private collections throughout the country.
The origins of woodblock printing can be traced to Egypt and China, where wooden stamps were used to make symbolic or decorative impressions in wax or clay. With the invention of paper by the Chinese in the 2nd century A.D., these stamps soon evolved into woodblocks used for printing. By the 6th century A.D., this concept of printing had progressed to Japan, and then westward. The "Golden Age" of the woodblock was 1450-1550 during which period artists perfected this medium for use in illustrations. Shortly thereafter, woodblock printing was replaced by copperplate engraving and etching which afforded the artisan greater flexibility of line. (left: Gustave Baumann (1881-1971), Bound for Taos, (sketch ) 1930, pencil and watercolor on rice paper, 11 3/4 x 13 1/2 inches, Stark Museum of Art, 31.216/9A)
The 19th century saw a revival of woodblock printing. The simplicity and bold patterns of Japanese woodblock prints influenced many artists including Paul Gauguin and the German Expressionists.
In the United States, Gustave Baumann (1881-1971) made his own contribution to the art of woodblock printing by being one of the first western artists to fully develop the use of color in woodblock printing. In the early 20th century Baumann was one of the first artists in New Mexico working in graphic arts. His use of woodblock printing helped to convey the spirit of New Mexico in a new and exciting manner. In producing a woodblock print from an original watercolor, Baumann carved separate wood blocks for every color to be printed, usually five or six colors for each print. He mixed his own colors and used paper made especially for him in Germany with his own watermark of a heart and hand. He usually printed a small edition of 25 prints. If they sold, he printed 50 more in edition II, and 50 in edition III, with no more than 125 of any print.
Gustave Baumann's family moved from Germany to Chicago when he was ten. As a young man he apprenticed at an engraving firm, attended the Art Institute of Chicago at night, and worked as a commercial artist designing labels for food products before he decided on the art of woodblock printing. He moved to Santa Fe shortly after his first visit in 1918. Baumann was one of the first western artists to fully develop the use of color in woodblock printing. He executed each stage of the woodblock printing himself. He designed the image, carved the block of wood, and did the printing in color. His prints of Taos and Santa Fe are alive with color.
Resource Library editor's note
Readers may also enjoy:
About Gustave Baumann
The New Mexico Museum of Art presented Pulling Strings: The Marionettes And Art Of Gustave Baumann from January 30, 2009 through May 10, 2009. From the museum's news release:
Gustave Baumann's Southwest, by Joseph Traugott, published by Pomegranate Communications, 2007, 80 pages. Book News says of this book:
ISBN: 978-0-7649-4178-8. (right: Gustave Baumann's Southwest front cover courtesy Amazon.com)
About Fremont Ellis
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