This post was written by student Tori Bryant.
Artist Luigi Kasimir developed a specific method of colored etching. He was born in 1881 in the town of Pettau, which at the time was in the Austro-Hungarian empire. He attended the Vienna Academy of Art, where he studied under William Unger, the artist who first introduced him to the technique of color etching. Kasimir also met his wife, Tanna Kasimir-Hoernes, at the Academy; she was an accomplished artist herself. Before Kasimir developed color etching, most etchings were done in black and white. Etchings had been popular for many years, and several artists explored applying color to etchings in various ways: hand coloring, or printing multiple colors from a single plate [a technique called à la poupée – ed.]. Kasimir’s method consisted of sketching the scene or image, usually in pastel, and then transferring the design by hand onto four to six plates. These plates were a way to keep the individual colors separate. The result was a crisp, clear image. Kasimir produced etchings for the majority of his lifetime, all with rich color and beautiful line quality. He died in 1962 in Grinzing, a suburb of Vienna.
Kasimir was considered a realist; the vast majority of his works’ subjects were architecture, landscape, and city scenes. This print, Munich, Archway through the City Hall, created in 1922, fits in well with the rest of his work, although it is much gloomier and more dismal than most of his other etchings. For instance, Innsbruck, Golden Roof and Wiessenkirchen on the Danube are two etchings that show how cheerful and brightly colored the majority of his prints are.
Looking specifically at Munich, the most interesting aspect of the etching is the fact that a large percentage of the composition is taken up by the concrete structure and arch. Yes, there is a city scene through the arch, but it is mostly in the distance and in the background of the print. It almost seems as though the arch and the concrete structure have the most significance in the scene. Since the etching was done in 1922, this fits in with other artists who were focusing their content on industry and the growth of the city. This could explain the fact that Kasimir uses dark and dreary colors, emphasizing the concrete and the rise of the city.
The arch also underscores the human perspective that Kasimir uses. The point of view makes it seem as though the viewer of the print is really standing outside the city, looking through the arch. Qualities like this make Kasimir’s arch truly representational, without drastic distortion or stylization in the scene. There are some blurred images of people walking the streets, but through the shadows and busy-ness of the city, a person would hardly see people clearly, even in reality.
Note: This post has been updated (1/18/2019) to reflect a correction of the title of the print “Munich, Archway through the City Hall.” Thanks to commenter uithetnietsvzw for identifying the error.