Contemporary, Gallery Openings, Prints, Woodcut

The Buckower Elegien: Woodcuts by Ilse Schreiber-Noll

The Old Print Gallery is pleased to announce The Buckower Elegien: Woodcuts by Ilse Schreiber-Noll, a mini-show on view at the gallery from September 23 to October 23, 2011.  Schreiber- Noll, a German- American artist, created visual companions to the 22 short poems of Bertolt Brecht’s Buckower Elegien. Utilizing woodcuts, Xerox transfers, and type, Schreiber-Noll’s prints transmit an undeniable sense of poetry and lyricism.

The show is in collaboration with Ilse Schreiber-Noll : Artists’ Books Creativity and 9/11, a presentation and poetry reading held at the Goethe-Institute, Washington, on September 27, 2011, as well as a group show, Agents of Change- An Exhibition of Artists’ Books with a Social Conscience, held at the Corcoran College of Art + Design from October 5- October 30, 2011.

The Buckower Elegien were written in 1953, primarily as a response to the June 17th Uprising in East Berlin, which started with a demonstration by construction workers rioting against unreasonable production quotas, and quickly transformed into citizens demanding both labor and social reforms. The poems show a personal struggle for the Brecht, as he considerers his conflicting allegiances to his government and his countrymen, many of which were violently killed and injured by Soviet tanks and the Volkspolizei during the bloody revolt. Finding solace in the bucolic countryside of Buckow, Brecht used his poems to reflect on the complexity of his political situation in the GDR, as well as to come to terms with the unprecedented violence and destruction of his country’s last half-century.

Schreiber-Noll does an exquisite job of translating the sometimes incensed and sometimes wistful thoughts of Brecht into art. Her faint application of war images to the poems “Der Himmel Dieses Sommers” and “Vor Acht Jahren” mirrors Brecht’s lingering uncertainty of his fellow German populace and leaders. Brecht’s poems also indicate that he found solace in nature; he perceived the trees and plants around him as steady and reliable presences amidst the destructive nature of man. Noll’s use of visible grain in her woodcuts helps to reinforce and elevate these passages.

Schreiber-Noll is a deeply committed advocate for peace. Her work traces its roots back to the passionate writings of Bertolt Brecht and others, who spoke for the rights of the downtrodden. For many years, she made masterful woodcuts and limited edition books, and she now explores the medium of paintings and the creation of handmade, unique artist books. Her densely painted surfaces are encrusted with additions of wire, ash, wood, photos, and text, all used to generate a strong physical presence. Ilse Schreiber-Noll’s work has been exhibited and published in the USA and Europe, and can be found in major public and private collections. She lives and works in Westchester, New York and Berlin, Germany.

We hope all of our readers can stop by and see this month-long show. We also encourage you to visit the two other events being held at the Goethe Institut and the Corcoran College of Art + Design. For more information on those two events, visit the Goethe Institute website (here) and the Corcoran’s website (here).

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