Woodcut Prints


Woodcut is the oldest of the printmaking media and was developed first in China then in Europe during the Middle Ages. As woodcut pre-dates the invention of letterpress, early woodcuts often included text. A large proportion of the population were illiterate, however, so woodcuts were an important way of communicating ideas and information. Woodcuts were used as an art medium by artists such as Bruegal, and notably Albrecht Durer who also worked extensively with metal engraving. The Japanese developed woodcut printing to a fine art from the mid-1600's; the work of Hokusai, Kunisada and Utamaro showing particular expression and refinement. In Europe, Munch and the German Expressionists revived the medium and later Picasso and Matisse pursued its variation - the linocut. Woodcuts are made by carving with chisels into a timber or particle board surface to create a relief image. Ink is then either rolled or dabbed onto the surface and an impression taken by placing paper on the inked block and passing them both through a press. A different carved block is required for each colour. Woodcuts often have a vigorous appearance with high contrast between black and white. They may show a woodgrain, but can also yield a flat surface. Because the block has a relief surface the paper is slightly embossed by the printing process (Source: Papergraphica).