Palle Nielsen Danish 1920-2000
The Shawdows. Tracks in the Snow 1955
Woodcut, 133 × 234 mm
The Shadows. Tracks in the Snow
In the late 19th century woodcut once again makes an appearance within the vanguard of the art scene after a few centuries without any marked change or innovation. The Symbolists and the emergent Expressionism were particularly important in "rediscovering" woodcut.
In Denmark woodcut gained a similarly significant position — propelled by Aksel Jørgensen in the inter-war years and, very significantly, by his student Palle Nielsen (1920-2000) in the 1950s. In Nielsen’s works the Expressionist formal devices were employed to their fullest extent, albeit in the service of a different cause. What is given visual form here is no longer an idyllic, original state of existence, but a rough, cold, and threatening world where mankind does not feel at home. A world that has lost its innocence.
In the work The Shadows. Tracks in the Snow from 1955 mankind is the black silhouette wandering not just in the world, but also on it — on the picture plane, outside of the perspective system used for illusion. Mankind has becomea stranger in the work, and Nielsen perfectly constructs this alienation within the scope offered by woodcut.