Masereel's Woodcuts

Today we'll go back in time with the beautiful woodcut print of artist Frans Masereel. Why? Well, Frans is considered one of the greatest wood cut artists of the 20th century and the father of the graphic novel. Could it be more I Love Belgium material?

Born in the seaside city of  Blankenberge on 31 July 1889, Frans moved to Ghent in 1896, where he began to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1909 he went on trips to England and Germany, which inspired him to create his first etchings and woodcuts. From 1911 on Masereel settled in Paris for four years and then he emigrated to lovely Switzerland, where he worked as a graphic artist for various journals and magazines.

When you have a look at the work of Masereel you'll see the social critical note. The ending of the first world war played an essential role on his later work. This resulted in dramatic, conflictual and chaotic imagery.  One of the reasons why it appeared in left-wing magazines and journals.

Yet Masereel is most famous for his expressionistic novels he completed in the roaring twenties. Here the book of woodcuts depicted simple, wordless, tales of the human conditions such as love, inspirations and the daily problems. Among the 20 novels, titles such as The Idea, Story without Words and A Passionate Journey are seen as true masterpieces and significant comic milestones.

To put it in his own words: "Carving images into wood or linoleum and transferring the image onto a canvas is known as xylography and is the oldest known method of relief printmaking. The artists of this genre create beauty and meaning using the spaces in between, carving images of strength and vigor, movement and contrast, all by what they leave behind."

Today Frans Marseel is still an active player in the field of graphic woodcuts. The Frans Marseel Centrum in Kasterlee keeps his tradition alive by helping (inter)national graphic designers realizing their intaglio prints, screen prints and lithographs. Or how Frans and his beloved technique still lives on today. We love it!

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