While I was at the Royal Academy I decided to go and see Renaissance Impressions, which is running to the 8th of June in the Sackler Wing. This exhibition focuses on chiaroscuro woodcuts from the collections of Georg Baselitz and the Albertina in Vienna.
Before I visited, I had no idea what chiaroscuro woodcuts actually were, so I was happy to be enlightened. There is a helpful video at the beginning of the exhibition that shows you how they are made. They are like standard woodcuts – e.g. cut out a pattern on some wood (doh), cover with paint, and press onto paper – but you do it in layers. So you have one woodcut for the lighter tones, and you print that; then another for the highlights, and you print that; and finally, another for the outlines which is very dark. The technique results in beautiful, layered pictures full of atmosphere. Some are mainly black and white, while others involve the use of colour. There is more information, as well as a stunning selection of images, on the Royal Academy website.