Person looking straight ahead in front of a window and tree

Edvard Munch, Måneskinn I (Moonlight 1) (detail), 1896. Color woodcut on thin Japanese paper, 400 x 470 mm (15 3/4 x 18 1/2 in). Museum purchase, The Herman Michels Collection, Vera Michels Bequest Fund, 1993.121. Photograph by Jorge Bachman

Woodcut: Primary Printmaking

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Woodcut — where prints are made from the raised surface of a carved wooden block — is the oldest printmaking technique, developed in China in the 5th century. This exhibition traces the evolution of woodcut prints from the early Renaissance through today. Spanning prints from 15th-century Germany and Italy to the 20th-century revival in Mexico and Germany, where they were used to spread new political ideas, the exhibition also features contemporary experimental prints by Sol LeWitt (1928–2007) and Lonnie Holley (b. 1950). An enduring medium, woodcuts are still used by artists today as a democratic means of conveying powerful visuals and political messages. 

This exhibition is a companion to Japanese Prints in Transition: From the Floating World to the Modern World (April 6–August 18, 2024). Together these shows, drawn from our extensive works on paper collection, reveal the breadth and power of visual expression that can emerge through the carving of a simple wood block.

Also on view