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Paul Landacre's Modernist Prints

His work received national recognition and numerous awards and can be found in dozens of public collections throughout the country.

Paul Landacre, Smoke Tree Ranch, n.d., wood engraving, 7 x 10 inches, Private Collection

Paul Landacre emerged as a leader in an American revival of fine art wood engraving in the 1930s and became one of the most important printmakers of the 20th century. His prints received national recognition and numerous awards and can be found in dozens of public collections throughout the country.

Photography: Lou Jacobs, Jr., 1949, Courtesy of Tobey C Moss Gallery

Largely self-taught, Landacre was known in American and European art circles as a progressive modernist, though even the most conservative art critics of his day embraced his fine art prints. While most artists were creating black and white art by using black lines on a white background, Landacre became renowned for the opposite: His white lines on black background essentially reversed the drawing and printmaking process.

Known for their technical mastery, expert craftsmanship, and formal beauty of design, Landacre’s prints were mainly done on a Washington cast-iron hand press from the 1800s and employed the finest Japanese paper and inks. All of his woodblock prints were engraved and printed at his home on “The Hill” in the Edendale district of Los Angeles and frequently portrayed the neighborhood around his house. Many of his linoleum cuts and wood engravings feature Western themes, including including Big Sur, Palm Springs, Monterey, and Berkeley.

When Landacre experienced financial problems during the Great Depression, a group of champions of his work — screenwriter-director-producer Delmer Daves, bookseller and gallery owner Jake Zietlin, and book designer Ward Ritchie — formed the Landacre Association and contributed to it to support the artist’s printmaking. In return, each collector received one of the editions of each of Landacre’s prints.

After an especially prolific period in the ’30s, Landacre devoted less time to his own art and focused instead on making prints for books and teaching at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, where he worked until his death in 1963.

Paul Landacre, Beach Campers, n.d., wood engraving, 6 x 9 inches, Courtesy of Debby and Bill Richards, from the collection of her father, Delmer Daves

Above: Paul Landacre, Black Stallion, n.d., wood engraving, 8 x8 inches, Courtesy of Debby and Bill Richards, from the collection of her father, Delmer Daves; Left: Paul Landacre, Breaking Ground, n.d., Wood engraving, 10 x 8 inches, Joseph and Elaine Landacre Collection

Paul Landacre, June AM, n.d., wood engraving, 9 x 12 inches, Courtesy of Debby and Bill Richards, from the collection of her father, Delmer Daves

 

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