Clark, Willard

Willard Clark  (1910 - 1992)
Clark trained in art schools in Argentina, New York, and Provincetown. He then became an accomplished commercial printer in the 1930s and soon created a typographic style that, along with his own woodcut illustrations, became closely identified with Santa Fe. After closing his printing shop in 1942, Clark spent over thirty years as a master tool and die machinist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, during which time he did little artistic wood engraving. Instead, he made sophisticated steel parts used in nuclear research. Upon retirement from LANL in 1979, he unpacked his engraving tools, bought a small proof press, and produced a body of prints that are now keenly sought by collectors for their artistry and precision of technique.

Willard Clark understood how machines worked, loved the combination and interaction of type and illustration, and taught himself how to print with great skill. He applied his knowledge of figure/ground relationships in woodcuts and wood engravings to create accomplished prints. His early training as a painter helped him to develop a sense of compositional balance, and he learned how to render even the most complex objects as wood-engraved illustrations, almost as if he had challenged himself to turn back the clock to a time before photo-mechanical illustrations. Beyond all of this, near the end of his life, Willard Clark produced prints from wood blocks that can be compared with some of the best American color prints of his time. He died in 1992 at the age of 83, shortly after the Museum of New Mexico's Museum of Fine Arts gave him his first exhibition