Large woodcuts like Untitled (Figure) form the core of the artistic practice of the Cologne-based Tobias brothers, twins whose prints, drawings, and sculptures examine modernism, folk art, folklore, and cultural identity. Some of their woodcuts are based on campy horror films set in Transylvania, the region of Romania where the brothers lived until the age of twelve (and home to the fifteenth-century figure Vlad Tepes, on whom the Dracula legend is based). These works are marked by a playful combination of historical lore, Hollywood clichés, and traditional folk motifs.
Untitled (Figure), with its lush color and bold poster aesthetic, was inspired by a true folk form—a figure in traditional costume. Wearing a head scarf, this old woman smiles, revealing missing teeth, and displays her unusually kind and loving nature by having not one, but two cartoony hearts beneath her breasts. Further placing the work in a specific cultural context, the Tobias brothers executed Untitled (Figure) in a rough-hewn manner that recalls eastern Europe’s centuries-old woodcut tradition.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 265.