Die Entwicklung der modernen Buchkunst in Deutschland


Thanks are due again to Mr Peacay at BibliOdyssey for drawing attention to this recent addition to the Internet Archive from the Smithsonian collection. Die Entwicklung der modernen Buchkunst in Deutschland (1901) is a compendium of German book illustration edited by Otto Grautoff, and its a particularly good anthology with a lot of content I haven’t seen repeated elsewhere. Many of the artists represented have been featured here already, not least because a number of them appeared regularly in Jugend magazine: Thomas Theodor Heine, Ephraim Moses Lilien, Heinrich Vogeler, and the most eccentric of all German artists of the period, the naturist and mystic known as Fidus (Hugo Höppener) whose drawings receive an entire chapter.




Heine’s depiction of “butterfly dancer” Loïe Fuller.

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German bookplates


A selection from Das Moderne Deutsche Gebrauchs-Exlibris (1922) edited by Richard Braungart, an overview of the practioners of the bookplate form in Germany and Austria during the first decades of the 20th century. Some of the German and Austrian art magazines featured here over the past couple of years included bookplate designs, and Braungart’s collection includes many artists from those magazines: Melchior Lechter, Hugo Höppener (aka Fidus), Julius Diez, Heinrich Vogeler, Marcus Behmer, Franz von Bayros, Koloman Moser, Carl Otto Czeschka, Ephraim Moses Lilien, Franz Stassen and others. 400 examples in all.



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Jugend, 1896


So, then, I’ve now looked through several thousand pages of Jugend magazine and a few things have become apparent. If you’re interested in fin de siècle art and design then all the most interesting material is in the first four years of the magazine’s run, from 1896 on. After 1900 there are still examples of the florid Art Nouveau motifs which filled their earlier pages but the overall style becomes progressively dull, with endless pictures of German towns and hearty country folk. The magazine also begins to reflect an obviously belligerent mood in the country as a whole, pictures of military types and patriotic themes proliferate and the satirical material grows overtly aggressive towards neighbouring nations. Racist cartoons are to be expected—British magazines of the period are much the same—but there’s also a vicious antisemitism boiling away in later issues of Jugend which creates a toxic mix when seen beside the war-mongering on display elsewhere.


Politics aside, these magazines are still a revelation. Pan magazine was being published at the same time (its entire run is also available in the Heidelberg archives) and is the finer journal if it’s art you’re interested in. But Jugend, being a lighter read, contains a wealth of strange and surprising illustrations. Many are naive or just plain bad, of course, but some are quite remarkable. This is the first of a number of posts I’ll make which highlight illustrations that catch my eye. I’ll also be making some follow-up posts about individual artists as the magazine has been a great introduction to minor illustrators I’ve not come across before. This first post is from the two volumes covering 1896 which can be browsed and downloaded here and here.

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