JugglerArtist(s)Christian RohlfsObject Creation Date1849-1938Medium & Supportcolor woodcut on paperDimensions
14 5/8 in. x 17 7/16 in. ( 37.1 cm x 44.3 cm )Credit LineMuseum PurchaseLabel copy
Death as Juggler, also printed under the title Revolution, was executed during tumultuos months of political instability and economic crisis following the war. In this composition, we see two cloaked figures huddled together before a skeleton who juggles the symbols of monarchy represented by a sceptre, crown, and cross. In the context of its time, the work is a bold call for reform and and ominous portent of what could come to Germany in its turbulent post-war state.
As with fellow Expressionists Wassily Kandinsky and Erich Heckel, Rohlf was a true colorist and used his palette to evoke particular moods within his art. In this woodcut of 1918/19 we see the artist’s integration of woodcut and painting techniques. He often produced a number of unique versions of the same woodcut by painting and drawing on the prints with a variety of materials. For this version, he first applied a heavy layer of ink to the woodblock with a large brush whose strokes are visible in the dark background. The sickly yellow of the juggler and shocking red of the huddled pair are gouache applied by hand to the printed paper. It is Rohlfs use of hand-coloring used to great effect to heighten the drama of this disturbing composition.
Text written by Katharine A. Weiss, Exhibitions Assistant, on the occasion of the UMMA exhibition Graphic Visions: German Expressionist Prints and Drawings, January 25–April 6, 2003, West GalleryPrimary Object ClassificationPrintCollection AreaWesternRights
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modern and contemporary art