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Linocuts - the history


An Inner Experience of the World
by Suzanne Coley
Derived from two latin words linum (“flax”) and oleum (“oil”) linoleum was invented as a floor covering in 1860 by English rubber manufacturer, Frederick Walton.  Around 1882 linoleum was manufactured in Germany at the Delmenhorst Linoleum factory in Delmenhorst, a city known for its cork and jute industry.  

Linseed oil from the flax plant is the main ingredient for linoleum.  Other ingredients included resin, pulverized wood, limestone, jute and pigment.

The first artists to use linoleum as a printing technique were German expressionist artists studying in Dresden.  

In 1905, four architecture students, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckle, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, formed the group Die Brücke (The Bridge).  They were later joined by Otto Mueller and Emil Nolde.  

In search of a new mode of artistic expression and wanting to free themselves from the past academic styles of their time, they expressed extreme emotion through their art by creating emotionally charged imagery in a raw manner, with vibrant colors.  

According to the Brücke Museum in Berlin,  “The "Brücke" style attempts the creation of pure expression through colour and form.  Painted motives such as landscapes or nudes in natural settings become the symbolic expression of an inner experience of the world Forms and shapes are reduced to their essentials and express the artist’s subjective feelings.  Traditional rules of perspective and academic proportion are abandoned to heighten immediacy.  In this context the artists gained important impulses from their examination of the art of indigenous peoples."


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