6 May 2017 – 2 Jul 2017
Entry with Day Membership
Preview: 5 May 2017
Frans Masereel (1889-1972) was an influential Belgian graphic and expressionist artist whose work was primarily motivated by the historical and social events of the early 20th century, including the First and Second World Wars. At the beginning of his career he established an international reputation as a political cartoonist, publishing his prints and drawings in various magazines and newspapers in France, Switzerland and Belgium, including a monthly journal on pacifism entitled Les Tablettes (1916–19) and the daily newspaper La Feuille (1917–20).
The majority of his most distinctive social and political observations were created using woodblock prints during the period between the two World Wars. This includes The City (1925), a ‘wordless novel’ that is universally acknowledged as a precursor to the contemporary graphic novel, which will be presented in the Upper Gallery. It consists of a 100 individual woodcut prints detailing the daily encounters of multiple individuals within an anonymous metropolis. These are born from Masareel’s observations and experiences whilst living in Berlin, Geneva and Paris. His evocative monochromatic illustrations provide a definitive record of the banalities of everyday life, depicting the social hierarchy, objectification of women, bureaucracy, rituals and practices that defined urban life in the early 1920s, and that are arguably still evident today.
With special thanks to the Frans Masereel Foundation and the University of Reading Typography & Graphic Communication Department.