While I was in Miami for Art Basel Miami Beach and Design Miami a couple weeks back, I ducked into my favorite Miami Beach museum the Wolfsonian to have a look around.
This woodcut by Edward Wadsworth was one of my favorites of the show, not just for the woozy geometry and bracing perspective, but because it's so clearly enthralled with the machine age. Entitled "Drydocked for Scaling and Painting (Liverpool)," it's one of several wonderful Wadsworths in the show.
Given how indebted the British prints in the show are to both cubism and Italian futurism, many of them deal overtly with speed. Here in "Speedway" by Sybil Andrews from 1934 we see a trio of motorcyclists nearly transformed into giant insects by their careening machines.
Though the majority of the prints deal with technology, World War I, sports and city life, there are a few dedicated to people at their work. This colorful print "Rhumba Band II" by Swiss artists Lill Tschudi, who worked in England for nearly all of the 20th century, is a linocut from 1936.
The eight rowers in Sybil Andrews's "Bringing in the Boat" take on the architectural form of the boat itself.
Cyril E. Power's "The Merry-Go-Round" is a truly fearsome sight, and not the only print of the era to suggest that this new brand of mechanical amusement has beneath it the capacity for startling tragedy.
"The Tube Train" by Cyril E. Power is a color linocut from 1834 that is one of a series in the show that deal with the London Underground. I love the comic quality of the image, as well as the sense that you're going round a curve. One of the least abstract in the exhibit, I do think that this print gets at the kind abstracted humanity that riding public transport seems to engender.
"The Runners" by Claude Flight is one of the many prints devoted to sports. Most, like this one, drew their abstracted, active geometry from repeated images of athletes. Though here it's runners, other prints in the show so ice skater, rowers and wrestlers.
Perhaps the most clear nod to the aesthetic advances in painting in the 20s comes from Claude Flight's 1926 color linocut "Spring, from The Four Seasons."
Though the majority of these prints concern themselves with war machines, zooming cars and whirling pleasure machines, I loved Lill Tschudi's examination of where all that power comes from. Here "Fixing the Wires" gives us that same jazzy brand of abstraction applied not so much to vehicles as to infrastructure.
Claude Flight's "Brooklands" from about 1929 literally shows a pair of screaming racecars catching fire as they hug a turn.
Though there were a couple interesting exhibitions up, my favorite by far was "Rhythms of Modern Life: British Prints 1914-1939." Taking their cues from Cubism, Futurism, and the bloody, whizzing world around them, the handful of artists on show here give a gripping account of interwar English life. Check out the slideshow to see what I did. The show runs through February 28th, so get there if you can.