Chapter 31 - The German Jugendstil and Plakatstil Movements

Table of Contents:

The Jugendstil Movement

The Jugendstil movement is the name of an artistic Renaissance that appeared in the late 19th century in southern Germany. This emerging art was artistically elegant and stylistically revolutionary. The Jugendstil artists and designers were concentrated around Munich, and while  their work stylistically appeared similar to that of the French Art Nouveau of the fin de siècle  era, in essence their art was authentic both in terms of it aesthetics and also its Teutonic themes and mythology.

Cover of Jugend  Magazine, 1916, No 1

The movement was strongly supported by Munchner Jugend an art magazine which extensively employed the graphic designs and illustrations of the Jugendstil movement, including black and white and tinted illustrations, hand lettering and even architectural and furniture design in many ways similar to the traditions of the Arts and Crafts movement. Jugend was  established by Georg Hirth, a real Renaissance man and one of the foremost intellectuals in Munich whose books such as Aufgaben der Kunstphysiologie (Responsibilities of Art Physiology) in 1891 were influential in the development of German creative art during the turn of the century.

For twenty years, until his death, Hirth was Jugend's editor in chief. The first major artist that joined Jugend was Emil Hansen, later known as Emil Nolde. Hansen who had been teaching decorative design in St. Gall since January 1892 met Georg Hirth in 1895, and began to work  as one of the main illustrators for the magazine.

Emil Hansen

German-Danish painter and print maker, Emil Hansen was born in small village whose name he took as his own in 1902. He came from a family of peasants, and his simple and rural origin at the extreme north of Germany close to the Danish border, influenced his work. He was connected with land,  and its folk culture, which was half pagan half protestant.   He was one of the most powerful exponents of Expressionism. Although he was a member of the Die Brucke group of expressionist painters, he remained a relatively isolated figure, due to his temperament and circumstances. His unique contribution to 20th century German Expressionism lies in the intense emotion of his radically simplified - sometimes grotesquely distorted - drawings, and vivid colours. At the same time he was one of the greatest watercolourist painters of flowers. His most famous works include The Prophet He loved ancient Germanic legends, and he used them in his works.

Children of the Woods, 1911

Tingel, Tangel II. 1907

Der Pflüger. 1911.

Postmodernism and Digital Graphic Design; the Observer Created Meaning!

Hans Heinrich Christiansen

Hans Christiansen is considered one of the key figures in German Jugendstil. His artistic vision  and bold creativity had a significant influence on the German  graphic design.  Christiansen worked as decorative painter apprentice in Flensburg during the 1881-85 period, and then joined a decoration firm in Hamburg  for the next two years.  in 1887, he went to Munich to study, and two years later traveled to Italy to expandhis artistic horizon. After his return he began to teach at a technical college in Hamburg. He was also workind as a freelance decorative painter and was actively involved in promoting the "Volkskunst-Verein", with the aim to reform the German graphic design in accordance with the achievements of  the British  Arts-and-Crafts movement.
He visited  Chicago in 1893,  where he  saw glass works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, that had a great impression on him. Next he moved to Paris,  and studied painting at the "Academie Julian" over the 1896-99 period. During this time, he  created a number of cover designs for Jugend and became renowned  as a  great decorative painter during the 1920s.

Cover design for Jugend Magazine, 1896

L'Heure du Berger, 1900s

Hugo Höppener, Fidus


Hugo Höppener, Known as Fidus  (1868 -  1948) was the son of a confectioner in Lübeck. Early in life, he discovered his artistic talent, and at18 he joined an artists commune in Munich, led by Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, the so-called  "apostle of nature", whose Lebensreform (life reform) movement critiqued and rejected industrialization and urbanization, promoting a vegetarian diet, clothing reform to free people from physically constricting fashions, and Freikörperkultur (nudism). He was a pioneer of the peace movement, life in harmony with nature, abolition of monogamy,  and rejection of all religions. His philosophy  appealed  enormously to the young Höppener, so much so that for Diefenbach's sake he served a brief prison sentence for public nudity, earning him the nickname Fidus ("faithful").

Die  Ersten Menschen, (the first human), 1908

Fidus moved to Berlin in 1892 and set up another commune, while working as an illustrator for the magazine Sphinx.  He created many decorative drawings, book  designs, and posters which were informed by German mythology, and he often combined mysticism, eroticism, and symbolism in Jugendstil.   He was one of the first artists to use advertising postcards to promote his work. Although, he joined the Nazis in 1932, they seized his work in 1937 and prohibited  the sale of his images.  He died in 1948 relatively forgotten, but was rediscovered in the 1960s.

An advertisement for a vegetarian restaurant in Berlin. 1900

Kommune, 1900

Ernst Barlach

Ernst Barlach ( 1870 – 1938) was a German expressionist sculptor and graphic designer. He was born in Wedel in Holstein. In 1888 he attended a vocational school in Hamburg, and two years later he entered the Dresden 'Akademie', where he continued to study sculpture and became Robert Diez's master student. He then traveled to Paris in 1895 and 1897, and to Russia in 1906.  In 1910 he settled at Güstrow (Mecklenburg), Germany, and had his first exhibition at Paul Cassirer's in Berlin in 1917. Two years later, he became  a member of 'Preußische Akademie der Künste' in Berlin.  In 1930 a retrospective of Barlach's sculptures and graphic designs was exhibited at the 'Preussische Akademie der Künste' in Berlin.

From 1928 onward Barlach created many anti-war sculptures which reflected his experiences of the war. His pacifist attitude was opposed vehemently during the Nazi era.  In particular, when the city of Magdeburg commissioned the Magdeburger Ehrenmal (Magdeburg cenotaph)  as a memorial of World War I,  Barlach  created a sculpture with three soldiers of different ages, all standing in horror in a cemetery,  flanked by a mourning widow covering her face in despair and a skeleton wearing a German army helmet.  Barlach   added a figure of himself as a civilian with his eyes closed and blocking his ears in in despair. The monument was very controversial with the  right wing nationalist , some of whom argued that the soldiers cannot be Germans, since  they are not acting heroic. Finally, under their pressures  the sculpture was removed. Barlach's friends rescued  the sculpture and  hided it until after the war, when it was returned to the Magdeburg Cathedral.  In 1936, Nazis confiscated  his works as "degenerate art", and he himself was prohibited from working as a sculptor. 

Aus de Walpurgisnacht, Woodcut, 1923

Julius Klinger

Julius Klinger (1876- 1942) was born in a Jewish family in Dornbach near Vienna.  He  his first job at nineteen  with a Vienna fashion magazine, Wiener Mode,  in 1895. Where he met his teacher Koloman Moser, who later recommended him to the Meggendorfer Blätter.  He moved to Munich, in 1896 where he worked as an illustrator for the Meggendorfer Blätter, and  a year later to Berlin where he contributed to Jugendstil magazine until 1902. He also worked as a  commercial graphic artist during 1897-1915.

 Poster for the  Johannisthal airfield in Berlin,  Johannisthal Airfield Daily Flights If the Weather Permits, 1912 

Collaborating with printing house Hollerbaum und Schmidt, Julius Kilinger's international reputation as a creative poster designer grew, and in 1912 he designed the above poster for the Rund um Berlin air show in Johannisthal.  The poster was a creative advertisement for daily flight, in which Klinger  let the viewer to create in his imagination the aircraft of his choice. In Berlin he also contributed to Das kleine Witzblatt, Lustige Blätter and Das Narrenschiff,  humorous magazines. 

Artist Poster, for Hollerbaum & Schmidt Entwurf print company, 1900

Klinger's posters were sophisticated, enigmatic and  aesthetically stunning.

Advertisin for the "Tabu" cigaret, 1919

Advertising for the "Tabu" cigarette, 1919

Over the 1918-19 period, Klinger designed an advertising campaign for the "Tabu" cigarette  company that used  rolling paper,  in Vienna. His campaign strategy was ahead of its time,  encompassing small  newspaper ads, billboards, painted firewalls, construction site fences and other venues.  

After his last poster for the Ankerbrot-Werke factory, a Jewish-owned company in 1937, the company   was confiscated by the Nazis in 1938.   According to Viennese police records, Klinger was scheduled to be deported to Minsk on June 2, 1942.  It is  believed that he was deported and was killed on that year.

Otto Eckmann

Otto Eckmann (1865-1902) was born in Hamburg.  A painter, graphic artist, typographer, and crafts designer, he was a leading exponent of German Jugendstil. After studying at the Hamburg Kunstgewerbeschule, he moved to Munich, where he studied painting at the Art Academy. He  worked as a painter until 1894, and then he devoted himself exclusively to graphic design and crafts, especially embroidery designs.

Otto Eckmann, Embroidered panel design, 1900

Otto Eckmann was the first Jugendstil artist to be invited to Darmstadt by Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt. In 1893, seven years before the artists' colony was founded on the Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt, the Grand Duke commissioned him to design his study in the Neues Palais on Wilhelminenplatz. From 1895 Otto Eckmann produced illustrations for the journals "Pan" and "Jugend". A year later, he began to teach at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Berlin as  a professor of applied art.

  Cover of the magazine 'Jugend', No. 14, 1896

Jugendstil typefaces: Eckmann-Schrift designed by Otto Eckmann in 1900

One of the distinguishing features of Munchner Jugend was the extensive use of original hand lettering and unique type design in their covers, titles and advertising content. The magazine was lavishly decorated  with black and white and colored illustrations, decorative borders and humorous vignettes.  Around 1900, Otto Eckmann,  like Peter Behrens, designed a Jugendstil script. Eckmann script revolutionized typography. Influenced by neither antiqua nor Fraktur, the Eckmann script was what was known as a bastard script to be construed at will by typesetters, a principle entirely in accordance with the formal intention underlying Jugendstil.  Also. like Peter Behrens, Otto Eckmann worked for AEG (Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft), designing trademark logos for their products.

In the Netherlands Jan Toorop who had worked in various styles, including Realism, Impressionism, and  particularly Symbolism was gradually drifted towards Jugendstil. The best-known example of his work is the above poster for 'Delftsche Slaolie' (Delft Salad Oil) in 1894. The litho was printed in various colour combinations.

The Plakatstil Movement

In 1896, two posters, Kunst-Anstalt for Modern Plakate and Die Alte Stadt, both by Otto Fischer was exhibited in Dresden. Otto Fischer (1870-1947) studied at the Dresden Academy, under Preller and Hermann Prell. Over the period 1894- 1914 he traveled throughout Europe and America, and then started to teach as a Professor of Art at the Dresden Academy.

Many art historians consider the above Fischer posters as the very first artistic attempts by the German graphic designers. With its reduction of naturalism and emphasis on flat colors and shapes, the first poster on the left was an advertisement for Wilhelm Hoffmann’s Studio in Dresden which printed modern posters. It depicts a couple studying intensely a large lithograph. The background is a very austere setting. The woman, dressed in a dark green shirt and black skirt, is siting on white wooden chair. Her male companion with a dark hat and a smoking cigar between his lips is standing behind her. The man's hat is a visual complement to the woman's dark skirt. The focal point of the poster is supposed to be the lithograph, which shows the image of two girls in a garden scene, but Fischer by choosing an orange headscarf for her female secretly invites the viewer to compare his poster against the traditional poster that the couple are viewing. The second poster shows a woman in her traditional costume in front of a Roman bridge towards an old town. The mouth of the bridge echoes the sleeves of the female character and her oval face, and these three geometric curved surfaces create a powerful overall balance. The strong and balanced flat compositions, vibrant and efficient uses of colors, and intelligent placements of text were the hallmarks of Fischer's posters.

Nine years later the 'Plakatstil' or "Poster style" movement revolutionized the pioneer works of Otto Fischer . There were two schools of Gebrauchsgrafik in Germany at the time, Ludwig Hohlwein in the southern city of Munich and Lucian Bernhard in the northern city of Berlin were the leaders of the new movement. Hohlwein's high tonal contrasts and a network of interlocking shapes and Bernhard's simple and bold designs made their works instantly recognizable. With few but vivid colours, a sharp, non-cluttered, minimal composition and bold, clear types the two designers produced some immortal works of art. The Plakatstil became very influential and had a considerable following on the graphic design scene in Germany.

Ludwig Hohlwein

Ludwig Hohlwein (1874- 1949) was born in the Rhine-Main region of Germany. He was trained and practiced as an architect until 1906 when he switched to poster design. He became the most masterful and accomplished German graphic designer of the 20th century. Early on in his career, Hohlwein developed his unique and exquisite style, which little changed over the next forty years. His compositions were powerful, ingenious and precise and benefited from his superb drawing skill. His works are associated with Munich and Bavaria in the southern Germany, and are characterized by soft and elegant pallet of colors. He utilizes the play of light and shade to define and substantiate his compositions which are of photographic qualities, and are testaments to his deep and intuitive understanding of graphical and architectural principles.

A large segment of Hohlwein's portfolio was executed over the 1912- 1925 period. These are the best posters created in the most important phase of his artistic life. His sharply defined forms, bright colors and a jovial and optimist outlook in his distinctive style are the hallmarks of this phase of his career. By 1925, he had already designed 3000 different advertisements. He had became the best-known German commercial artist of his time.

Lucian Bernhard

Lucian Bernhard (1883-1972) was born near Stuttgart as Emil Kahn. He changed his name to Lucian Bernhard and left home for Berlin at the age of 18 in 1901. He became the protege of Edmund Edel, an established artist, who brought him into contact with the printing company and poster publisher Hollerbaum & Schmidt. In 1903, he opened his own studio in the center of Berlin. With nothing to lose, he entered a poster contest for the Priester Match Company in 1905, and designed a bold drawing of two large matches with a simple text 'Priester' in blue colour above them in sharp, stylized font. The stunning simplicity of the design at first worked against him, as the judges found the poster bizarre and ignored it. However, the sales manager for Berlin's leading proto-advertising agency and poster printer, Ernst Growald, saw the discarded poster and exclaimed: "This is my first prize. This is genius!" Bernhard had won both the contest and a long-term benefactor.

In 1910 the Berthold Foundry brought out a new type face in "block" letters based on Bernhard's poster lettering, which displayed a remarkable anticipation of the "Sans Serif" lettering of the 1920's. The Flinsch Type Foundry followed with the production of Bernrnhard "Antiqua," "Kursiv," "Fraktur," and half a dozen others. Bernhard left Berlin in 1922, and set up a studio in New York City. Over the course of his career, which lasted well into the 1950s, Lucian Bernhard became a prolific designer not only of innovative posters but of trademarks, packaging, type, textiles, furniture, and interior design.

Hans Rudi Erdt

Hans Rudi Erdt (1883- 1918 ) along with Ludwig Hohlwein and Lucian Bernard is one of the main representative artists of the Plakatstil movement. He was born in South Bavaria. After leaving school he apprenticed as a lithographer in Munich. Later on, he enrolled at Kunstgewerbeschule, the art school of Munich. In 1905 he moved to Berlin where he became a commercial poster artist. During the 1914-18 period he produced war posters for the German government, and played a key role for the Reich Film Committee(war movie posters).

Erdt uses the text simply to introduce a brand name, with a sense that it is the integral part of the layout, which is strikingly bold and aesthetically agreeable. He is very creative and elegant with his handwritten typefaces. His compositions are balanced and monumental. In 1912, he created the first advertisement for Nivea, and designed the poster " Silhouette of woman ". He was part of a generation of graphic designers who for the first time became specialized in commercial art around the late 19th and the early 20th centuries.

As a commercial graphic designer, Erdt worked for brands such as Opel automobile, and cigarettes such as Manoli and Problem. Posters of Hans Rudi Erdt play on the plot created by a highly simplified composition in which every detail has been carefully erased, and the placement of his enigmatic personalities, with their cynical, detached air about them. Sometimes they carry forced smiles, and at times they look anxious or withdrawn, these features create a dramatic ambiance, that render Erdt poster so immortal, and relevant. Perhaps Erdt's posters give us a reading of the mood of angst and despair in Germany and Europe during the Bismarckian era, which stemmed from a fear of technology, urbanization, and the crumbling of old values.

Ernst Deutsch-Dryden

Ernst Deutsch-Dryden (1887 , 1938 ) was born as Ernst Deutsch, the son of a Jewish merchant from Szeged in Vienna, and as a graphic designer he put his mark on magazines, haute couture, movie costumes, erotica, posters and more. By his own account he studied at Angabe Schüler der Kunstgewerbeschule , School of Applied Art (now Universität für angewandte Kunst -- university of applied art), it is often erroneously claimed that he studied with Gustav Klimt, but his name is not in the list of the enrolled students at the school, but it is possible that he may have been an auditing student. He became renowned as a poster designer in Berlin in the years before the WW I. After the war, he returned to Vienna to design menswear and in 1926 joined a Berlin fashion magazine as an illustrator. During the 1930's, he ventured to the United States, continuing his career as a couturier and ending up in Hollywood. Celebrating a "lost world of elegance," Dryden's graphic design is enchanting, humorous, thought provoking, and artistic.

Deutsch-Dryden's meteoric surge of career started in Berlin; at the age of 23 he was already at the top of the German graphic scene, and was ranked along with Ludwig Hohlwein, Lucian Bernhard, Julius Klinger, and Hans Rudi Erdt. In 1912, Julius Klinger wrote of him; "If I have to talk about his personality, I cannot be objective, I do love his style too much. He is smart, funny and surprising; sometimes a bit disagreeable, which highlights his sweet Viennese appearances so pleasantly". By his elegant, snappy style of drawing, his graceful strokes, and his sometimes experimentally tentative solutions, he created stunningly powerful work of art such as the poster for "Salamander Shoes". By depicting three pairs of women feet, the artist's line of view is from beneath the "decorous" hem line, and by preserving the anonymity of the women he forces the viewer to admit his role -- the role of a voyeur.

During the war years, he continued to illustrate for the "Neue Freie Presse" and created numerous magazine advertisements. In 1919, he re-branded his work under the pseudonym "Dryden". Why he did so remains a mystery. His name change was accompanied by the creation of "Dryden. Workshop for interior design", establishing his own fashion and decorative studio. From 1921, he was exclusively represented by the fashion houses "Knize" (Fritz Wolff) and "Hello". Dryden's posters of Vienna period signed under the name Dryden, over the 1919-26 period, became quite different from his earlier Berlin period. The depressed economic climate in the young republic, was the main reason for the artists to detach themselves from the representations of pomp, luxury and vice. At the same time this poor climate forced all poster designers of this period to adhere to the commercial taste of their clients. In spite of this, still one can detect occasionally a flash of aesthetic genius in his posters . Stylistically, Dryden moved between art deco illustrations and caricature-like drawings with a narrative element.

In 1926, Dryden left Vienna for Paris where he took over the art direction of the magazine "Die Dame". At the same time he also designed for Coco Chanel and his most daring work as a graphic designer was appeared  for "Bugatti", "Cinzano", "Canadian Club Whiskey" and the perfume "Eau de Vie".   In Paris, he hired a Viennese lawyer, for his official request for name change, and finally on  3 July 1931 Ernst Deutsch's name was officially changed to Ernst Dryden.

The worsening economic conditions in Europe forced Dryden to emigrate to New York, in November 1933. Although early on he doubted that he would be successful, as early as March 1934 he wrote Hello: "The launch was so successful that now the people scrambling around me ..." He worked for major fashion houses such as Germaine Monteil , Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Marshall Field & Co. Later on he moved to Hollywood, where he designed costumes for films. Dryden died in 1938, five days after Hitler's invasion of Austria, at his villa in Hollywood, West Los Angeles of a heart attack.

Fritz Rehm

Fritz Rehm (1871 - 1928) is another German illustrator of the fin de siècle era. Unfortunately, not much known about his personal life. He studied art in Munich and opened up his own studio there at the end of the 19th century. His earliest known poster dates to 1896, and he was one of the few German artists represented in the Mâitres de l'Affiche for his 1898 poster. His earlier works were in Jugendstil style, but he gradually moved towards plakatstil, in which his talent flourished.
 Advertisement for a pub, in Jugenstil c. 1898

Rehm's posters are imbued with a sense of drama, their quiet suspensions inform us that something is about to happen. In his poster for Hans Solfrank, a tobacconist, Rehm, playing with shadows and light, depicts a multi-faceted atmospheric image in which two distraught gentlemen are smoking in a waiting room. The body language of the gentleman, who is seated at the back; reveals a reflective sense of submission to a personal tragedy. He is turning away both from us the viewers and the other character in the poster who is looking at him with a kind of sympathy. Designed in the prevailing German fashion of the period, with flat colors and practically no outlines, Rehm takes his design one step further and shows more facial detail than was usual for the time. Rehm posters are testament to his artistic sensitivity and technical skills.

Emil Cardinaux

Emil Cardinaux (1877-1936), a Swiss graphic designer, was strongly influenced by plakatstil movement. In his posters he tried to adhere to the political ideals of Switzerland. His role models were Albert Anker (a Swiss painter and illustrator who has been called the "national painter" of Switzerland because of his strikingly romantic depictions of 19th-century Swiss village life) and Max Buri (1868-1915),a Swiss painter who belonged to the group of artists around Hodler whose styles characterized by bright colors and powerful lines. Cardinaux believed in the Swiss ideals of home, country, family, order and political independence as the main characteristics of democracy, which strongly were informed his posters. His artistic talent was particularly evident in the designs of his commercial posters.

Go to the next chapter; Chapter 32 - Pioneers of Advertisement Posters and Newspaper Layout

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