Frans Masereel

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Masereel, Frans


Born July 30, 1889, in Blankenberge, West Flanders; died Jan. 4, 1972, in Avignon, France. Belgian graphic artist and painter. Member of the Communist Party of Belgium.

Masereel studied at the Academy of Arts in Ghent in 1907 and 1908. After 1909 he lived mainly in France. During World War I, he lived in Switzerland, where he joined R. Rolland’s group of pacifist writers and produced a cycle of antiwar newspaper drawings. Masereel used the artistic devices of expressionism and other new currents in 20th-century art. These devices included phantasmagoric images, grotesqueness that at times changed faces into masks, angular geometric drawing, dynamic composition, and sharp contrasts of black and white. Masereel used themes from literature, traditional symbols, and allegorical elements. His series of woodcuts (“novels in pictures”) are marked by a rapid unfolding of theme characteristic of a succession of motion-picture frames.

Masereel was interested in the life of modern man, caught up in the social whirlwind of the city. Tracing the intellectual growth and fate of his heroes, he revealed the tragic conflict between free thought and bourgeois society and expressed a conscious political protest against violence and exploitation. He also sought to determine man’s place in the contemporary world and the humanist values associated with his existence. The artist’s works include Man’s Road to Calvary (1918), My Book of Hours (1919), An Idea, Its Birth, Its Life, Its Death(l920), The City (1925), Creation (1928), Dance of Death (1941), and Youth (1948).

Masereel illustrated the works of C. De Coster, R. Rolland, and others. He did a number of albums of drawings and water-colors and painted landscapes, portraits, and genre compositions. He also worked for the theater and films. Masereel influenced the work of many European artists of the first half of the 20th century and played a significant role in the development of new expressive devices in critical realism.


Kantor, A. M. “Tvorchestvo Fransa Mazerelia.” In the collection Sovremennoe izobrazitel’noe iskusstvo kapitalisticheskikh stran. Moscow, 1961.
Sapego, I. “Obraznyi stroi grafiki Mazerelia.” Iskusstvo, 1961, no. 8.
Razdol’skaia, V. Mazerel’. Leningrad-Moscow, 1965.
F. Masereel, Malerei und Graphik: 1917-1957. Berlin, 1957.
F. Masereel. . . . [Dresden] 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
She has received various awards and residencies, including from the Illinois Arts Council Award; Arts Midwest; Frans Masereel Center, Belgium; and Anchor Graphics, Chicago.
His black inked crowd scenes and claustrophobic, uncanny cityscapes evoke the jam-packed frames of Frans Masereel's pre-Weimar woodcuts.
Although the movie is inspired by the image book L'Idee (1920; The Idea), by the Belgian Frans Masereel, Bartosh's innovative visual work enriches the fable's criticism of capitalism, concerns about ideologies, and reflections on art with tensions between straight and curved lines and fixed and mobile images.
La segunda etapa a la que corresponde esta serie que analizamos, _No Reurn, comenzaria en el 2008 tras el regreso de su ultima estancia en el Frans Masereel Center (Belgica) y supone el comienzo de una reflexion sobre el paisaje del mundo, una apuesta por evidenciar, y sin lugar a dudas denunciar, el desarraigo que padecemos con los lugares que habitamos (Figura 1, Figura 2).
He's the twenty-first-century grandchild of all those brow-furrowed proletarians at the center of such worldess, woodcut, proto-graphic-novels as Passionate Journey by Frans Masereel or Gods' Man by Lynd Ward.
If the concept of "creative print" inspired Chinese woodcut artists and enthusiasts to see woodcut as a legitimate medium of self-expression distanced from the "reproductive" form of commercial art, a series of "woodcut novels" by Frans Masereel (1889-1972), the Flemish graphic artist, provided them an invigorating model of pictorial narrative that linked the expressive possibilities of creative woodcut with the social-democratic politics.
At any rate devotees of the comic art history will recognize the Belgian artist Frans Masereel and the New Yorker Lynd Ward for extraordinary achievements probably also Milt Gross whose 1930 She Done Him Wrong is arguably the one historic crossover from the newspaper comic strip style.
Graphic Witness: Four Wordless Graphic Novels by Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward, Giacomo Patri and Laurence Hyde.
Rendered in a black and white scratchboard technique, evocative of the German Expressionists and the picture novels of Lynd Ward, Otto Nuckel and Frans Masereel in the 1920s and 1930s, the first panel includes a vintage photograph of 10-year-old Artie posing with his mother in a bathing suit, which segues into a drawn self-portrait of a gaunt Spiegelman in prison garb (referring to his brief stay as a teenager in a state mental hospital) with the speech balloon: "In 1968 my mother killed herself ...