Wounded Sailor (Verwundeter Matrose)

Erich Heckel German

Not on view

Heckel embraced the woodcut technique for its expressive potential and its links to earlier German artists and craftsmen. While serving in a medical unit in Belgium, he made many pictures of the injured, including this portrait of a sailor with bandages wrapped tightly around his head like a turban. Heckel achieved a raw, unrefined aesthetic that corresponds to the primitive brutality of the war; gashes he cut in the wood to create the image parallel the sailor’s wounds, suggesting both physical and psychological scars. The man’s sacrifice is suggested by the cross-like area of uninked parchment that frames him. Because paper was scarce, Wounded Sailor was printed on the back of a found seventeenth-century Dutch manuscript page.

Wounded Sailor (Verwundeter Matrose), Erich Heckel (German, Döbeln 1883–1970 Radolfzell), Woodcut printed on parchment

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