On View: How Woodcuts Helped Create the Modern Book at the Morgan Library & Museum

A resurgence in the art of woodcuts immediately preceding and following the turn of the 20th century helped set the stage for the modern book.

'Vanessa Bell (1879-1961)'from 'Monday or Tuesday' by Virginia Woolf (Photo: © Estate of Vanessa Bell)

‘Vanessa Bell (1879-1961)’from ‘Monday or Tuesday’ by Virginia Woolf (Photo: © Estate of Vanessa Bell)

The creative expressions by a small group of wood engravers in both Europe and Amercia showcased the medium’s potential in both typography and illustration. Medium as Muse: Woodcuts and the Modern Book, now at the Morgan Library & Museum, shows how these artists helped redirect the course of book publishing.

A very expression art form, woodcuts run the gamut of highly stylized interpretations to works of intricate detail. During what became known as the “woodcut revival,” artists pushed the boundaries of the medium, allowing a new modernity to emerge. Medium as Muse features works from the collection, past and present, while following the revival’s influence on animation, the fine press and today’s graphic artists.

Medium as Muse: Woodcuts and the Modern Book is on view at the Morgan Library & Museum until May 11, 2014.