The Color Woodcut in Vienna Around 1900

How the Vienna Secession revived an archaic technique – in brilliant color

Exploring a lesser-known chapter of the storied Secession, Vienna’s fin de siècle aesthetic reformers, the Albertina is presenting roughly 100 color woodcuts, including works by Koloman Moser, Carl Moll, and Emil Orlik. With their stylized motifs, prominent outlines and rich colors, they are high points in both craftsmanship and the Art Nouveau style.

Woodcutting is an old printing technique, requiring the artist to carve a picture in negative on wood, effectively making a stamp. First gaining popularity in Europe thanks to the arrival of the printing press, it was later displaced by newer techniques like lithography. It remained popular in Japan however; ukiyo-e prints eventually made it to Europe, influencing artists like the dissidents of the Vienna Secession, who brought woodcuts back with a vengeance.

The center of the exhibition consists of the vibrant works of Ludwig Heinrich Jungnickel, a relative unknown outside of Vienna. Featuring vivid coloration, visual dynamism, and a fondness for portraying animals, his prints were experimental both in form and technique, utilizing stencils rather than carving. Complemented by bold renditions of the female form by Karl Anton Reichel and other Secessionists, Jungnickel’s prints are an intensely hued hallmark.

Albertina
1., Albertinaplatz 1
Daily 10:00–18:00, Wednesdays to 21:00

Through Jan 15

Jennifer Cornick
Jennifer Cornick is a contributor to METROPOLE and avid reader. When she isn't writing, she can be found in Vienna's English bookstores.

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