December 30, 2011

Happy New Year! in Masereel's "The City"

When I walked into the studio to find inspiration in my art books for a New Year's post, I noticed my copy of Frans Masereel's The City, a dramatic wordless novel in 100 woodcut images, published in 1925. What a glorious image of fireworks to start the new year!

Masereel's portrait of the city is one we would recognize today, with the intense bustle of rush hour...

to the long lines of workers laboring at their desks...

the hard physical labor to build the city's structures...

and the manual labor to make its factory goods.

The city that Masereel so vividly depicted was one of work and play, drudgery and debauchery, love and violence. And, like today, the rich strongly contrasted with the poor.

There was intimacy; there were large crowds celebrating or protesting; there was lonely despair.

I wish all of you a year full of peace and prosperity and the beauty of the world around us, from the grandeur of starry skies to the tiny things that touch us. And I also hope, as Masereel did, that the world becomes a better place.


  1. Wonderful post, Altoon! Happy New Year!

  2. great to see these here Altoon, it's a favorite book of mine and the images look terrific isolated like this, unbound.

  3. Thank you so much for all of your thoughtful posts, I learn so much from them, from being an artist to profoundly reflecting upon society, nature, as well as my own thoughts and feelings.

  4. thank you. i am struck with the idea of 100 images, no words. beautiful concept.

    happy new year!

    a fb friend

  5. I spent a month at the Franz Masereel Artist's Retreat in Kasterlle, Belgium, just outside Antwerp, in the 80's. It was fully equipped with
    litho presses and etching presses. Wonderful place!


  6. Thank you all, for your comments and greetings. It's great to have you as readers!

  7. I hope your new year is full of creative energy and good health of carry out all your objectives. Happy New Year!!

  8. Outstanding. Also outstanding is the effort, warmth and enthusiasm, which you display to your friends. You're the best. Happy New Year.

  9. "Life's Starry Sea" - Beauty holds a different voice, beyond the naked eye; a stellar kind of choice, that turns the heart to fly. Yet flash is just a bygone turn, of fire burning hot; that pulls the human heart to yearn, beyond it's current lot. For time is just a fraction torn, to serve appointed space; where wishes sweep with soft adorn, upon our mortal face. And from a fraction yet to see, a pulsing beat is felt; bending past life's starry sea, toward loving hearts to melt. <3 WORDS by Amber MacKay © (April 23, 2015) Artwork by Altoon Sultan (Dec. 2011 - Taken from a copy of Frans Masereel's The City, a dramatic wordless novel (in 100 woodcut images), published in 1925. (The attached photo is of the glorious image of fireworks at the end of the book).