Living for the City

5 12 2007

Aside from just commenting and presenting current and past artists, I also want to feature some of my own work. I’m currently a Visual Arts Major with a concentration on Printmaking. I also have some other pieces from my Advanced Drawing course I will be showcasing. Of course, with this being Dead Week and finals up ahead I won’t be posting any of my work until after all is said and done. Some of the pieces are finished yet and I would like to show my prints as a whole series since they deal with the same subject.

I’m still trying to find myself as an artist. To be honest, I feel scattered still. It took me a long time for find my concentration, about three years or so, and now that I’m there I still haven’t found out what it is I want to say. When it comes to prints my favorites are from the German Expressionists along with the American Ash-Can school.


Frans Masereel is probably my favorite of all the Expressionists, perhaps even  my favorite printmaker. Born in Belgium in1889, Masereel is considered by many to be the master of the woodcut. His topics where usually of the city and of city life, where scenes of work, play, death, and sex are constantly in view. He was a anti-war pacifist in WWI and during WWII his works were banned by the Nazis. In the Soviet Union, his works were praised as scenes of the proletariat, however Masereel was against any form of oppressive government and system along with any political party or affiliation.

His works reflect not only the city, but also the feelings of those who live in the city and the feeling of isolation due to the ‘Modern City’. This sense of loneliness is a common theme  among the Expressionist movement, coming just off the heels of WWI and into the economic depression across Europe–especially in Germany. Many of Masereel’s cityscapes where produced in the 1920s and provide an image into the newly growing Modern City.

Even when in close quarters, the subjects are miles apart in their own spheres.


I would like to produce work of this caliber. Scenes of city life and the human interaction within have always fascinated me. I grew up for a while in a large city and even though now I live in a somewhat rural area I still feel a sense of connection to these images. These scenes of loneliness are still just as strong today as they were in the 1920s. The ‘Modern City’ has done nothing to remedy the sense of extreme isolation. We still avoid each other in close proximity: on the elevator, the bus, in the hall. We live next door to people for years and never get to know our neighbors. Eye contact is avoided.

If Masereel were still alive today, or if he were just starting out like myself, what would his response be to this wireless, digital world we live in? Where communication has dwindled down to 5 letter text messages and human interaction has been replaced by the Instant Message? If in Masereel’s day people where living for the city, then just what the hell are we living for now?