Menschenbilder. Holzdrucke vom Mammutbaum Aarau
Josef Felix Müller
|Publication; 144 pages, 25 × 17 cm, hardcover with embossing, thread stitching
The 134 woodblock prints by Josef Felix Müller reproduced in this book were created in the wake of an art project to create the façade for an extension to Stadtmuseum Aarau. A redwood tree stood on the development area between the Kongresshaus and the Schlössli Aarau, which had to make way for the planned new building. The architects and the artist wanted the wood of the felled giant, which carried the last hundred and thirty years of Aarau's urban history, to be used for the planned building via an artistic transformation.
In the summer of 2013, Josef Felix Müller created a total of 134 human images as wooden reliefs, which were recast in concrete in the winter of 2013/2014 and have formed the south façade of the new building facing the city as a whole since the summer of 2014. Spontaneously ‘drawing’ with a power saw, the artist cut the life-size human figures directly into the wood panels that had been sawn from the boards of the redwood tree and glued together.
The wooden reliefs, which served as templates for the negative polyurethane matrices for the concrete casting, were used as printing blocks for the wooden prints after completion of the façade. Together with Helmut Sennhauser, Josef Felix Müller developed a vacuum printing process that preserved the originality of the wooden panels, as they did not have to be dyed in this way.
Each wooden panel was placed on the vacuum table where it was covered with a fine film. The vacuuming process sucked the film into the grain, crevices and incisions of the roughly sawn wood panels. Next, the tightly fitting film was rolled in with white printing ink. The moistened, grey-brown recycled paper was placed on the film and lightly rubbed with pressure pads. This enabled the laterally reversed human images to be transferred onto the paper with little manual pressure.
In addition to the work 134 Erwachsene, drei Babys und der Hund (134 Adults, Three Babies and the Dog) on the façade of the Stadtmuseum Aarau, Josef Felix Müller printed the figures by hand in an edition of three copies each and combined them in this publication as a cycle of works.