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Gerd Arntz

Ever the same

prints and drawings 1950 - 1970
arntz Gerd Arntz

Gerd Arntz (1900 - 1988) gained international fame for his political woodcuts and symbols for visual statistics. Although Arntz produced a few paintings around 1930, he otherwise worked exclusively as a graphic artist. He made his choice for this profession at an early age and then limited himself to two techniques within the graphic arts: the woodcut and the linoleum cut. This limitation gives his oeuvre a great deal of cohesion. After a short expressionist period, he soon created his own, unmistakable visual form. There was no room for intermediate tones or shading, nor for the spatial illusion suggested by the perspective. In his woodcuts, Arntz constructed a world in two dimensions that is systematically made up of alternating black and white, in lines and planes.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Arntz's woodcuts analyze social contradictions; they want to teach, criticize and call for solidarity in the midst of revolt, repression and nationalism.
Wood was replaced by linoleum to cut his images and from 1950 the formats became larger, the compositions more complex. Again the prints reflected the world of that time. In large, moralizing and slightly mocking allegories Arntz depicts the aspects of joy and fear of those years. The world conceived as a carousel, carnival or circus: in the details the time remains legible, which was dominated by cold and colonial war, by nuclear threat and opposing powers. Fashions and styles change, but Arntz often seems to sigh: 'Semper idem' - 'Ever the same'