October 4, 2017
Max Thalmann (1890-1944), Figure and Shooting Stars, c.1920, woodcut, 9 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Milton D. Heifetz, 1971.
Born August 13, 1890, Max Thalmann belongs to the “forgotten” generation of German artists who worked during the years between the two World Wars. Throughout his career, Thalmann worked as a bookbinder, illustrator, and book designer, also making a significant contribution to the development of late-expressionistic landscape art. Thalmann’s psychologically and emotionally charged works echo the distress of the German people after World War I, a time of significant unrest, alienation, and disillusionment. As seen in this woodcut, Thalmann’s dynamic lines, expansive gestures, and harsh tonal contrasts work together to underscore the expressionistic qualities of the piece.
The figure in Thalmann’s print is seen amidst a flurry of shooting stars, an apt depiction to mark the celebration of World Space Week, October 4-10. Officially defined as “an international celebration of science and technology, and their contribution to the betterment of the human condition,” the dates of World Space Week commemorate the October 4, 1957 launching of the first man-made Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, and the signing of the Outer Space Treaty on October 10, 1967.