Gustave Baumann lived in Santa Fe until his death in 1971. Many of Baumann’s most popular prints depict the Southwestern landscape and regional traditions of his beloved New Mexico.
At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century there was a renewed interest in the craft of traditional European printmaking and in the color woodcut prints coming from Japan. Many of Baumann’s prints include asymmetrical compositions, bright colors, curving lines, and patterned surfaces that appear to be influenced by the Japanisme that was in vogue when he was a student. While familiar and exhibiting with artists who worked in the Japanese manner, Baumann produced his prints in the distinctly European fashion that he studied in Germany. Using ground pigments and oil based inks that are applied to the printing block surface with a brayer, each block image transferred to paper using a printing press.
Gustave Baumann, San Geronimo - Taos, 1924, Color woodcut, Courtesy of New Mexico Museum of Art
Baumann began his woodblock prints with a series of studies and usually worked from one final opaque watercolor study on brown paper.This final study would be used to transfer the image to a block of wood, and to work out the division of colors for each block to be used in the edition. Baumann printed with a combination of translucent and opaque inks to achieve his desired color scheme and tonality.
(Image at top: Gustave Baumann, Spring Blossom, Color woodcut; Courtesy of New Mexico Museum of Art)