The most striking and well known of these is Still Life Under the Lamp, Picasso, 1962:
In this print there is striking contrast between the areas that are lit by the lamp, and those that aren't. The shadows on the apples are stark but do create a sense of form despite their simplicity. It is a very busy design. It has two areas of focus, the bulb and the glass. Many of the lines radiate from the bulb giving it emphasis as well as the white in the bulb. However, the larger area of white in the glass competes with this. I also wonder about the order of printing, which was first red or green? While I admire the technical skill and inventive approach to a simple subject, I am looking for a simpler aesthetic for my design, however I am very interested in the simple form of those apples.
This print is also at the British museum, but there is no image on line, Jacqueline Lisant, 1964
In a more traditional composition Picasso has used a comb to make interesting textures to create the shading then a separate block for the dark lines. I can imagine the comb lines being made quite freely, and love the looseness of this, the softness created by this texture is so different to the stark lines traditionally cut into lino. These highlights and shadows give a sense of form in a completely different way.
I have an exhibition catalogue, from 1990 of Picasso Linocuts containing these and many other prints, in the foreword it attributes the 'revolutionary method' of reduction linocut as an evolution of technique pioneered by Picasso. I cant help thinking though that surely for as long as people have been carving print blocks from any kind of material some form of reduction printing would have taken place, although it may not have been called this. The book goes on to say 'this required amazing forethought and an overall conception of the image as a whole, prior to printing' (Rossi). This is a statement I do agree with, and one I experienced with my multi block print for the last assignment.
Another artist I have looked at is Patrick Caulfield, these striking screenprints have simple compositions which make a big impact. I want to do a still life and notice how these images use simple composition rules such as the rule of thirds, and careful use of colour to create emphasis, and would mostly work as reduction prints. Despite the flat colour and absence of shadows they still look like 3d objects, has the subtle use of perspective achieved this? Is this because the objects are so familiar, I am seeing form without it being represented? The Coloured Still Life, below, leads me to wonder what are the minimum elements of a still life that create form? I've started doing some designing and will try some pared down versions in response to this.
This print also uses layering to great effect, but this one would not work as a reduction. The shadows here create depth, even with such a small colour palette and little detail this image feels like leaves above the ground. I think the use of colour is important here, I know leaves are green and shadows are more likely to be a cool blue, so the image makes sense and the layers achieve depth.