Saturday, September 22, 2012

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The Woodcuts of Loren Kantor

When I first started carving woodcuts, 
every portrait 
oddly seemed to resemble 
Steve Buscemi.

~ Loren Kantor

Unlike sculpture, it's easy to pack a lot of works on paper — prints, posters, drawings, and like that — into very little space. And so I do. Of all these flat bits of art, I've been mesmerized by woodcuts since I was old enough to turn pages. Old anatomy diagrams, Albrecht Dürer's famous rhinoceros, early 20th century German prints, the Malleus Maleficarum (I was a precocious reader), Hatch Show Prints, and more. Even as a kid, before my parents deemed it wise to allow me access to woodcarving tools,  I learned to make simple prints with crudely carved potatoes and finger paint; flowers, animals, movie monsters, Latin and Cyrillic letters — whatever struck my meandering and occasionally morbid imagination. Alas, as I grew older, I turned to bending copper rather than carving wood.

But I never lost my fondess for those woodcuts. Lately, I've been taken with Loren Kantor's contemporary examples. Kantor lives in Los Angeles and the influence of cinema both old and new shows clearly in his work. His Absinthe is inspired by a 1913 silent film of the same name, an early bit of temperance propaganda.

Food, drink, and mania show up elsewhere in his prints; there's the ruined mug of Charles Bukowski, a bespectacled Colonel Harlan Sanders, the panic-struck face of Peter Lorre from Fritz Lang's 1931 classic M, and Gary Busey who, wild eyes notwithstanding, gets a sympathetic presentation.

Kantor presents these and more on his blog, Woodcuttingfool. Most seem to be about 5" x 7" — a good size for a desk or that blank spot on your office wall. Me? I'm trying to decide between Absinthe, Colonel Sanders, or the Richard Nixon print which uses an actual slogan from his 1972 reelection bid: “You Can't Lick Our Dick.”


Of course, if Halloween is as big a deal around your house as it is in ours, the Boris Karloff print may be just the thing for you.

Email him for pricing and shipping. Absinthe, for instance, is $35 and will ship for $3 in the United States. Loren Kantor: lorenwoodcuts (at) gmail (dot) com

Goes well with:

  • Mikey Wild (1955-2011), a nod to Philadelphia institution Michael "Mikey Wild" DeLuca whose art, while very different, I hold onto with great affection. 

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