British Prints from the Machine Age

Sybil Andrews. Racing. 1934. Linoleum cut, composition: 10 5/16 × 13 1/2" (26.2 × 34.3 cm); sheet (irreg.): 11 7/8 × 14 15/16" (30.2 × 37.9 cm). Publisher: the artist, London. Printer: the artist, London. Edition: 60. Sharon P. Rockefeller Fund and General Print Fund. © 2019 Estate of Sybil Andrews
  • MoMA, Floor 5, 523 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

“I was interested in the shapes and rhythms and patterns of things,” reflected Sybil Andrews on her time at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London, where she worked and studied during the 1920s and ’30s. Together with her Grosvenor peers Cyril Power and Claude Flight, Andrews promoted a new medium for the machine age: the linoleum cut print. Invented as a floor covering in England in 1860, linoleum was inexpensive and easy to handle, but until then had only rarely been used for printmaking.

To make their prints, the Grosvenor artists carved a design into a piece of linoleum, which was then inked, covered with a sheet of paper, and rubbed with a wooden spoon to transfer the design. Depicting subjects such as competitive sports and industrial labor, the school’s members developed a signature style in which rhythmic patterns conveyed the speed and dynamism of modern life. The artists’ goal, as Flight wrote, was to wrest “an unusual experience from a commonplace subject.”


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