Friday, 16 September 2011

Astrid Meyer

As an antidote to the chic modernism of the Grosvenor School and just to prove that anything as advanced as linocut could take a realistic turn, a print by Astrid Meyer. The Brooklyn Museum have her down as an Australian artist and this could well be true. But this kitchen interior doesn't look like Australia (not to me, at least). The asymetrical modernist framing device sets the tone for the print and I love the details she provides: the glimpse of face in the mirror, the butcher's block covered in newspaper with loaf and teapot, the red quarry tiles on the sill, the single tap of cold water. She is closest to the woodcuts of Janet Fisher, with her clogs and stew-pots, but Meyer comes over as better informed and less sentimental than those early genre woodblocks. I also like the way she includes so much wood on this linocut. The array of lines and angles she uses, coupled with the round shapes of plates and mirror, are subtle. She doesn't try too hard. But it is the absorption of the figure, in her skivvie's uniform, that is most telling, the way we look in on her. This back-view, with the crossed apron straps, is unusual but throws our attention onto all those details that tell us what her working life is like.


The nice mix of modernism and the domestic continues in this chalk drawing of tulips in a glass vase. As do the unassertive colours. It is very thirties and of course the only date for her work that I've come across is 1931.  She also made at least one woodcut of a fishing village and there is another  linocut called Waiting for the train. It sounds as though they all left from the same station. Again, I'm sorry about the terrible reflections but I leave it to readers to sort out Meyer's modernism from chance images of what looks like an auction house bay. Ah, well. It's the best I could do.

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