A Jack of all Trades. A Master of What?

Felix Vallotton tried his hand in many art forms, ranging from landscapes to woodcuts to printmaking. While he is probably most celebrated for his nudes, his woodcuts speak more to his talent as an artist.

In his paintings, his palette choice, technique, and subjects (usually naked women) manage to capture the attention on any onlooker. But his woodcuts contain a richer and more mysterious meaning.

The woodcut entitled Money (below) presents a scene between a man shrouded in darkness and a woman, whose white dress lends her an air of innocence. While at first I considered the man to be a predator and the woman to be a helpless victim of his advances, the title eventually convinced me that the woman probably plays a greater role than she first suggests. Rather an innocent, damsel in distress, could she instead be money-hungry prostitute luring her next client through cold demeanour?

Felix Vallotton, Money, 1898 Woodcut

Felix Vallotton, Money, 1898

That is the beauty of Vallotton’s woodcuts. In a small wooden block, he manages to recreate interesting and ambiguous scenes – something lacking his most of his paintings.

For a chance to see some of Vallotton’s lovely woodcuts, visit  the exhibition entitled Felix Vallotton: Fire and Ice at the Grand Palais National Galleries running until January 20, 2014. But if you can’t make it to France, you can admire his work from home – check out Natalia Brodskaia’s latest book Felix Vallotton in print and ebook format.


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