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The Scarlet & Black

Baumgartner showcases prints in Faulconer

Photo by Jeff Li
Photo by Jeff Li
Photo by Jeff Li

Despite the fact that the subjects of her work are fast-paced machines, Christiane Baumgartner’s artistic process is a little slow. The renowned German printmaker insists on creating her prints from hand woodcuts, meaning that many of her pieces take years to complete. On February 26, however, Baumgartner took some time away from her studio in Leipzig, Germany, to come to Grinnell and give a presentation on her work. The lecture was held in the Faulconer Gallery, which currently has some of Baumgartner’s prints on display.

Baumgartner started her lecture by describing her own college education in Leipzig, which included semester after semester of tedious carving work. After finishing her degree, she moved to England to study printmaking at the Royal College of Art. It was there that she started to really experiment with her artistic style, and began incorporating video and photography into her work.

“The camera became my sketchbook,” Baumgartner said.

Baumgartner went on to develop a unique style, in which she translated pictures and video stills onto woodcut prints. The process is very slow and tedious, and it was through her experience with this method of art that she decided to focus on objects of speed and power as subjects for her work.

“Woodcutting is such a slow technique, so then what is speed?” Baumgartner questioned.

Baumgartner proceeded to show the audience several prints which featured planes, helicopters, cars, trucks and explosions. Many of the pieces were huge, measuring several feet high and wide. One audience member noted that both the nature of her subjects and the style of work was unusual for a female artist, to which Baumgartner enthusiastically agreed.

“I couldn’t have started out with flowers,” she added.

Although many of her older prints focused on power and speed, Baumgartner also showed the audience some of her more recent work, which features more natural scenes and experiments with different colors of ink. While closing her presentation, Baumgartner expressed both the joy and frustration of being abroad to showcase her art, saying that she hopes to return to Leipzig soon to begin some new projects.

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