The Marchutz Tapes — Reflections on Art

What is Important

Nuremberg, Germany in 1910 (hometown of Leo Marchutz, 1903-1976)

Leo Marchutz created, over time, drawings and lithographs of streets… as he said “the street ones are all along the way”.  First in Aix and then later on in Venice he drew and made lithographs of the streets.

. . . AS A BOY IN MY HOMETOWN, there was a series of streets I adored to walk through and I guess all that influenced me. [. . .] it was always a kind of wellbeing going through it.

. . . All these lovely places around Aix, they are the stuff of painting or drawing . . .

. . . I think one learns about drawing as soon as one goes down to draw something. I think because one eliminates, there is a question of elimination too, of sacrifice, what is important, what is the stuff that vision has left out, and what is unimportant.

. . . The first time I saw Venice before I ever came to Aix . . . I didn’t think about drawing there at the time. This came after I had worked in Aix.

. . . They are different but there are affinities. Both are beautiful towns and both have a unity and there are certain elements which are identical. For instance the relation of buildings to sky is more or less identical . . . the fundamentals of much light and color between air, ground and buildings.”

. . . There’s no doubt I was influenced a little bit in all that by Aix, helped I should say, by my work in Aix. Because in Aix it is no doubt that the rooflines are more important than the bottom lines. You can see that in most of my lithographs. The strength is always the top, they are less strong down at the bottom. Because at the bottom there are reflections there are not at the top. And if one makes a bottom line very strong, then it doesn’t sit. They never cut into the ground. It is like these trees. They are finally this upward makes a tree form much more than the trunk. The trunk is accent. It is, obviously, leading up to the upper part. It is the same with buildings.

. . . It’s the water, in Venice. There is certainly light in the lower part of the view, of the vision.

One can find it only by doing it . . .

Leo Marchutz,
Excerpt from The Marchutz Tapes, 1974-1976

Leo Marchutz was a lithographer, in his words “lithograph was my only means of expression”. His particular, unique approach to color lithography — varying the color of his lines and marks in a single pass — created compelling, thoughtful, nuanced images.

In Venice Leo Marchutz continued the conversation begun in Aix and in turn, back in Aix his work progressed by what he had learned in Venice. And so it goes . . . “one can find it only by doing it.”

Leo Marchutz, Venice, Canal with a Bridge (1957)

Leo Marchutz, Aix, Rue Mazarine (1952)

William Weyman, Venice
(c.  1970)

Leo Marchutz, [Untitled] Venice  (1957)

Excerpt chosen by
Sharon E. Rawlins
Student at the Marchutz School of Fine Art, Summer 2013 — a transformative experience that continues to influence, inspire, and inform. Currently living in Florida pursuing painting, mostly in watercolor and hand-printing watercolor monotypes with some occasional design work on the side.

Click here to view Sharon’s website.