Saturday, 26 February 2011
LH Jungnickel's parrots & the origin of the species
It was hard to resist posting two more of Jungnickel's humourous takes on hyperactivity amongst parrots. This first woodcut is wonderfully manic with very little bearing on natural history at all but does employ his later style of sub-expressionism which in fact has more in common with textiles than Schmidt-Rottluff. The second colour woodcut shows a hyacinth maccaw, a rare parrot from Brazil. In his earlier, more strictly secessionist woodcuts, he provided no habitat at all for the animals. In this one we do at least have leaves and what I take to be jazz-age tree-tops. Rather like his parrots, Jungnickel tended to be a law unto himself.
It was his usual method to stalk his subjects in the confines of the Vienna Zoo but he has made a valiant effort to describe the peculiar colour of the bird and the shading of its plumage. The beak is in fact dark grey and he may have emphasised the size of its his head for comic effect. But the humped wings and alarming beak are true to type.
All the more curious, then, for him to come up with this jeu d'esprit of violet maccaws. It's true that violet parrots do exist but the Violet Maccaw is a species that only inhabits LH Jungnickel's drole imagination. Whether the woodcut improves on nature is open to question but the printing is sharper, notably along the bird's neck and on its wing, giving the parrot a much livelier profile. The blacks and greys also stand in greater contrast to the violet than they do to the blue so there was a genuine desire on Jungnickel's part to make a better print. (I'm assuming the blue one is the earlier version, of course). No doubt assiduous readers will soon be finding other maccaws unknown outside the hothouse of Austria-Hungary. And I will have no other option but to post.