Loren Kantor is a Los Angeles-based woodcut artist whose interest began in the mid-1980s.
He recalls: “I attended a German Expressionist art show at LA County Museum and I encountered the woodcut prints and paintings of George Grosz, Kathe Kollwitz and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. I was mesmerized. I loved the stark lines and bold imagery.
”I was also blown away by the dark subject matter. Characters expressed emotional angst and images focused on the shadowy and unpleasant aspects of society.“
Loren was hooked; ”I was writing screenplays in those days and I never envisioned attempting woodcut carving myself. But the images remained in my subconscious and whenever I saw a woodcut print I felt a sense of excitement.“
He became an Assistant Director and worked on films, commercials and television shows through the 1980s and 90s. And in the early 1990s, he made a move which once again brought woodcutting into his orbit.
He says: ”That's when I moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I lived near the San Francisco Mission District, which housed small art galleries on every block. I came across a new generation of woodcut and linocut artists, most of whom were Latino. Again, I was enthralled.“
But once again, the idea was filed away for future reference after Loren moved back to Los Angeles, met his future wife and got married. ”Several years ago, my wife surprised me with a woodcutting set for my birthday. I checked out a few online tutorial videos and I dove in. The carving process was difficult at first. I cut myself often, the blocks were ragtag and I felt like a child with his first set of fingerpaints. Before long, I got the hang of it.“
Then, two of Loren's great loves came together: ”I've always been attracted to vintage Film Noir movies. During college, I took a film noir class and immersed myself in the classics: Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep, The Third Man. I fell in love with the black and white photography, the sinister shadows, the cynical heroes and enticing femme fatales. I realized the imagery of film noir was a perfect match for the carved lines of a woodcut.
“We needed art for our walls at home, so I decided to carve images of my favorite film noir personalities. I carved Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, James Cagney, Peter Lorre and director Billy Wilder...”
[From classic noir to modern, dark visions...]