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Joseph Domjan

Jozeph Domjan

Hungary/ US 1907- 1992

In the past two weeks we were inspired by Fairytales and Myths. Our inspiration this week came from renowned Hungarian artist, jozeph Domjan. Born in Budapest in 1907, he came from a large family of twelve children and grew up in poverty. To support his family, Domján started working at a machine foundry while still a teenager. During the Great Depression, he found himself unemployed and took the opportunity to travel extensively through Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany on foot. To sustain himself during his travels, he took on odd jobs and sold his sketches. It was during this time that Domján discovered his passion for art and made the decision to become an artist. He was awarded a scholarship to study at the Budapest Academy of Arts and six years later, he became a faculty member at the academy.

Domján's primarily focused on intricate woodcuts that were influenced by Hungarian folk art and his deep connection to nature. His technique involved layering multiple overprinted oil colors, using as many as twenty-one layers.

Each image required the use of eight different woodblocks. He developed a unique and vibrant style that quickly gained him international recognition and prestigious awards. In 1945, his studio was destroyed by a bomb, resulting in the loss of many of his artworks. The political repression surrounding the Hungarian uprising in 1956 compelled Domján to leave his homeland and emigrate with his family to Switzerland and eventually New York City.

Despite facing numerous challenges throughout his career, Jozsef Domján's talent and dedication allowed him to leave a lasting impact on the art world. His colorful woodcuts continue to captivate audiences with their intricate details and unique style. Now recognized as one of the most important color woodcut artists of the 20th century. His production also includes a wealth of black and white woodcut prints, oil paintings and Aubusson tapestries, in addition to illustrating 40 books.  His works are on permanent display at the Domján Museum in Sarospatak, Hungary, and are part of numerous major public and private collections.

He elected the phoenix as his emblem and artistic subject, and declared "I can die or live, I choose to live, to create, to rise like the phoenix from the ashes once more."


Folk Tales

This week the lesson concentrated on pattern, layers

and shape as we tried to recreate a similar style and mood

of the illustrations and prints of Jozeph Domjan using brush pens,

oil pastels and decorative patterns.


Last week we were inspired by Viking mythology, which figures prominently in European, British, and North American folklore and storytelling. Its influence can be traced back to the earliest forms of British literature, where tales of Knights of the legendary King Arthur and Pirate tales were woven into the very fabric of storytelling. From England’s first author, Chaucer to Tolkien's epic "Lord of the Rings" saga, to Shakespeare, these writers acknowledged the profound impact that Viking myths had on their own creative endeavors. We discussed timeless tales and looked at images from Medieval nautical maps, illustrations of dragons, unicorns, mermaids and especially mythological sea creatures, and the class created their own tales of adventure. 


 Week One: Cave Paintings

It has been an eventful week in our Art Literacy class. We have been all around the world.  I would like to thank all of my wonderful students for their great efforts. We began with the story of the discovery of the discovery of cave paintings in Lascaux,  France  and also looked at images from  Spain , where the oldest known cave paintings have been found,  in the cave called El Castillo. The prehistoric dots and crimson hand stencils are now the world's oldest known cave art that dates more than 40,800 years old.

© Serene Greene- Art Literacy Academy
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