Self-portrait, 1979

An important medium to which Otto Lackenmacher returned repeatedly in his quest for persuasive formal solutions was the etching – a 1968 print bears his rallying cry to himself, ‘Radier oder krepier’ (Etch or Die). The primary constituents of Lackenmacher's etched compositions are a limited visual field, into which the figures appear to throng, and a mostly gloomy ambience conjured by a rich and subtle range of hues, from a few areas of bright white through an infinite variety of shades of grey to the deepest tones of saturated black.

During the 1960s he mostly worked using monotype, a hybrid between drawing and printing. Lackenmacher valued it because of the immediacy of the process and for reasons of cost. The acquisition of a printing press in 1966 marked an important turning point, and in the years that followed he created an impressive portfolio of true etchings. The technique of etching, especially drypoint etching, clearly resonated with Lackenmacher’s artistic temperament, allowing for direct spontaneous work on the metal plate.

Typical thematic subjects of this period are the well-proportioned nudes, some of them from spectacular perspectives, in front of drab urban backdrops.