Rolf Nesch

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Nesch's Vikings, a perforated zinc sheet from his scrap metal print series Ring prints, 1952. Source.
The King (1934-35) by Nesch. A carved quartz head swathed in a cape of patinated copper sheeting. Source.

Born in Germany, he moved to Norway following the Nazi takeover in 1933. Inspired by scenery and working life there, he discarded canvas and paintbrushes [1] for good, and turned to printmaking. He developed his own techniques for metal prints [2] and so-called Snegraffik [material pictures] [3], for which he used a range of materials: metal plates, copper wire, wood, stone, glass, mica, rope, nails, and so on.

His metal prints include Elbe Bridge I (1932), Snow (1934) in a series of 20 (black and white), 21 metal prints of fisheries off the Lofoten Islands (1936) [4], 10 metal prints inspired by poems of Henrik Rytter (1937); the six-part Herring Catch (1938) inspired by the spring herring catch off Måløy; Beach Scenes (1939), a colour series of 18; and others.

Material pictures [Snegrafikk]: Double Lion of Babylon (1934), Reclining Woman (1934), both large zinc plates with metal wire soldered to them; the three-part Music (1934-35); the high relief and abstracted figures of Peace (1935-36) whose theme is the 1915 Eastern Front; Lovers (1935-36).

He also created distinctive sculptures, mostly figures in stone and bronze [5].

1938 saw his first exhibition of material pictures, held at the premises of Kunstnerforbundet in Oslo.

Nesch's metal-plate technique is described by Sidsel Helliesen of the National Museum; Eivind Otto Hjelle writes about his material pictures.

His work provided inspiration for the abstract artist Olav Strømme and many other Norwegian Modernists in the 1930s.

See also