Catherine Burns Fine Art

Black, White & Wood: The Engravings of Paul Landacre

Black, White & Wood: The Engravings of Paul Landacre

Paul Landacre

Paul Landacre was a virtuoso wood engraver with a singular technique and a modern, precisionist approach. During his lifetime, he was considered by art critics and artists, such as Rockwell Kent, as the finest American wood engraver of his time, and this view endures today. Enchanted by southern California landscape, flora and fauna, the artist is most renowned for depicting the rolling hills, deserts, beaches, and dramatic fires and storms around Los Angeles.

Image Credit:

Coachella Valley, 1936

"To me the most important elements in a work of art are: 

imagination first, and simplicity, and of course design."

Paul Landacre, 1954

Paul Landacre

Counterpoint

1938

12 x 8 1/4 inches; 30.5 x 21 cm

Wood engraving on laid japanese paper, full margins.

One of 21 signed impressions in the second edition (there were also 25 in a first edition and 8 signed and 7 unsigned in a third edition). Signed, titled, and numbered II 14/25 in pencil.

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Paul Landacre

Shell

1935

4 5/8 x 7 7/8 inches; 11.75 x 20 cm

Wood engraving printed on wove japanese paper, full margins.

One of 10 signed impressions in the second edition (there were also 54 in a first edition and 12 unsigned in the second edition) Signed and numbered “II 19/150” in pencil. Petrel stamp lower right and Origins of Art stamp verso.

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Storm, 1934

Paul Landacre

Storm

1934

8 x 10 1/4 inches; 20.32 x 26.04 cm

Wood engraving on laid japanese paper, full margins.

First edition of 60 (there were also 31 in a second edition). Rare. Signed, titled and numbered 7/60 in pencil.

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Paul Landacre

Sultry Day

1935

8 x 6 inches; 20.32 x 15.24 cm

Wood engraving on wove paper with partial watermark, full margins.

Edition of 200-225 published by the American Artists Group, New York, 1937. With the four-page presentation folio.

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Old Ranch Big Sur, 1930-31

Paul Landacre

Smoke Tree

1953

7 7/8 x 6 inches; 20 x 15.2 cm

Wood engraving on laid japanese paper.

Edition of 100. Signed and numbered 3/100 in pencil.

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Paul Landacre

Death of a Forest

1938

8 1/4 x 11 inches; 20.96 x 27.94 cm

Wood engraving on wove japanese paper, full margins.

First trial proof printed by the artist, before the edition of 60. Rare.

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Death of a Forest, 1938

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Laguna Cove

Paul Landacre

1941

5 1/4 x 7 1/8 inches; 13.34 x 18.1 cm

Wood engraving on wove japanese paper.

Edition of 200 published for the Woodcut Society of Kansas City, 1941. Signed and titled in pencil.

Paul Landacre

Old Ranch - Big Sur

1930-31

5 15/16 x 7 7/8 inches; 15.1 x 20 cm

Wood engraving on wove paper, full margins.

Edition of 35. Signed, titled and numbered 18/35 in pencil.

$4,500

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Paul Landacre

Growing Corn

1938

8 3/4 x 4 1/2 inches

Wood engraving on wove japanese paper, full margins.

Signed in pencil.

Paul Landacre

Alcestis

1934

6 5/8 x 4 1/8 inches; 16.83 x 10.48 cm

Wood engraving on laid japanese paper, full margins.

Edition of 60. Signed, titled and numbered 3/60 in pencil.

$2,800

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Born in 1893 in Columbus, Ohio, Landacre attended Ohio State University, where he was an aspiring athlete and botanist. Hit by a debilitating illness, he moved to southern California in 1916 to convalesce and pursue a less strenuous profession. Several years later, he attended classes at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. He taught himself the exacting technique of wood engraving, which was experiencing an international revival of interest as an artistic medium, but was not a subject taught in L.A. art schools. His first important exhibition was held in Los Angeles in 1930 at the Zeitlin bookstore, which represented him and his estate for fifty years and introduced him to a wide circle of local artists, actors, intellectuals and literary talents.

The artist’s early wood engravings were composed with sweeping, parallel lines to describe the sensuous curves of a hillside or a nude figure. By the early to mid- 1930s, he had refined his technique to a highly personal method of precise, meticulous cutting and fine crosshatching. Progressing even further beyond traditional woodcutting methods and towards greater abstraction, he used a multitude of different strokes of the burin to create sinuous lines and subtle textures and patterns. The striking clarity and beauty of his compositions, which contrast brilliant whites with velvety deep blacks, endowed his prints with a modernity that was unusual in other American or European wood engravings of the period.

Landacre’s prints are represented in the collections of most major museums, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, New York Museum of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Achenbach Foundation of Graphic Arts. Anthony Lehman’s biography, entitled Paul Landacre: A Life and a Legacy, was published in 1983. A catalogue raisonné of his prints will be available in 2019.

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Catherine Burns Fine Art

San Francisco Bay Area, CA

510-654-7910