Sunday, 13 July 2014

Ruth Laube, unknown German printmaker.

Ruth Laube
(active 1920-1930)

German woodblock printmaker and book illustrator. 
(Possibly active in the Nidden Artist Colony in Lithuania) 

Until last week I knew of just one print by this mysterious printmaker who's signature in Sütterlin (or old/Gothic German handwriting) is as difficult to read for modern Germans as it is to me. The "Fractur" or "Gothic" typographic (printed) script is somewhat easier but nevertheless, almost forgotten by most modern Germans. It was in use from the 16th century until WW 2. Collecting pre-WW2 prints however it is impossible to turn away from it. 

Sütterlin: Gothic handwriting 

Fractur: typographic or Gothic printing script 

For that reason I was very pleased (with myself), as a Dutchman, to be able to decipher the signature (Ruth and not Rolf Laube) and recognizing the printmakers style + monogram RL in this second print by her that I've discovered recently. 

The other one I've found some time ago in the collection of Wolfgang, a friendly and modest German collector, who provided me with this piece of extra information, the frame makers label: Conrad Klein, Heilsberg, Ost-Preußen. (In theory, when so few prints are found, there is a slight chance she might gave been perhaps only locally known. Conrad Klein, the frame maker, is mentioned in the 1936 Heilsberg Sensus but sadly no Laube family. My print was framed in Berlin. 
Heilsberg (now Lidzbark Warmiński in Poland) situated south of the old artistic and academic centre of Köningsberg (now Kalilingrad) not far from the Nidden Artist Colony in the Kurische Nehrung (Courtland Spit) the strip of sand and high dunes situated along the coast with Lithuania. 
(Where Lovis Corinth (1858-1921) taught and Köningsberg Art Academy trained printmaker Daniel Staschus (1872-1953) and his wife Paula participated. They later moved to Munich where with Martha Cunz (1876-1961) and Hans Neumann (1873-1957) they became the most important color woodblock printmakers). Probably printmaker L.E.M (Margarete) Gerhardt (1873-1955) was in the colony too.    

In the course of my ongoing research on pioneering German women printmakers born between 1860 en 1900 Ruth Laube is probably the least known  printmaker among the 140 (!) I'm constantly investigating. The name Ruth Laube in the Internet is also pointing to America, but then: hords of German families emigrated to the New World between 1850-1950.

And there's this 1930 book: "Vom Deutschen Glauben" with two original woodblock illustrations by Ruth Laube. One is shown above

Until the book on these women printmakers is publishable I've decided revealing in the Blog the most difficult and obscured of "my" printmaking ladies. Sooner or later this posting will be picked up by some one who knows more, as has happened regularly before. Therefore all information and comments on Ruth Laube are most welcome. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Sanyu, Weston, Matisse, Picasso and the Muze

Sanyu (1901-1966)

Edward Weston (1886-1958)

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

A few posts back I met chinese-french painter (and printmaker) Sanyu later realizing how much his paintings resemble the master pieces created by photographer Edward Weston and painters Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. So, today commenting on my own previous posting and just for the record: 

I have no idea who modelled for Sanyu but the other artists favored their muzes. Come to think of it: all great creative men had muzes. Was the muze attracted by their vitality and creativeness or were they source of it ?  Either way you should find your muze. Or let your muze find you !

By the way: Weston had Tina Modotti (1896-1942), Matisse Lydia Delectorskaya (1910-1998) and Picasso Dora Maar (1907-1997) and the list is much, much longer .................................... 
Tina Modotti + Edward Weston

Lydia Delectorskaya + Henri Matisse

Dora Maar + Pablo Picasso

All pictures borrowed freely from the internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Anny Böhmer-Hengstenberg, an unexpected discovery.

Anny (Annemia Hilma) Böhmer-Hengstenberg

(Duisburg 1891-1957)

German painter, book cover designer, paper-mosaik artist and
 woodblock printmaker.

My ongoing and never ending research on pioneering German Women Printmakers born before 1900 resulted in receiving from a reader in Krefeld Germany some wonderful supplements and new examples of this obscured artist and printmaker. Although occasionally her prints, usually topographic prints of historic Moers, a medieval city near Duisburg, show up in Ebay nothing much was known about the life of this artist. 

The old "Klompenwenkel" (wooden shoe shop) in the Neustrasse in old Moers drawing Gustav Olms (1864 - 1930) and pre WW2 photograph

The destructions during WW2 in all of Germany's cities were immens and the heavily bombed Ruhrgebiet was no exception destroying council- and school-archives and records disabling greatly todays biographical research. The friendly use of the Internet, again, proofs to be a great help to fill in gaps and omissions.

Besides the 11 woodblock prints that to this day came to my knowledge, I learned to my surprise that Anny was a pioneering paper mosaic artist. Skills and ideas she probably learned at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Krefeld but there's no proof because this schools' archives were also destroyed. 

It looks like she watercolored sheets of paper, to tear them up in order to mosaically piece and and glue them together again. 

Blobs of color in the form of scraps of paper, much like "pointillism" in a carefully arranged mosaic pattern creating paintings to an astonishing result. The small and rare collection of "paintings without painting" drawing the attention of a local museum and negotiations are underway for taking up in its collections soon. 

 The Old Bridge in Bad Kreuznach on river Nahe, a tribuary of the Rhine 120 km south of Duisburg. 

Anny was the daughter of industrial merchant Eduard Hengstenberg (d.1923) and Anna Küppers (b.1866). Her younger brother was the leading and important philosopher Hans Eduard Hengstenberg (1904-1998) born in Homberg (near Moers) now a suburb of greater Duisburg. 

Anny lived and worked in the small city of Bornheim near Moers and Duisburg and was married to Erich Heinrich Wilhelm Böhmer, possibly a member of the shoe manufacturing Böhmer familie that owned factories in nearby Xanten and Cleve before and after WW1.

As always I look forward to any supplemental (biographical) information and data. A great "thank you" for enthousiast collector en reader Klaus who has send me the pictures of his collection for sharing and added some important clues about the Hengstenberg and Böhmer families in Moers. 

All pictures are mouse-clickable to embiggen.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Unknown Russian Female Torso woodblock

"Xylograph not ready yet. (This is) 1st print in process of preparation. Will send (the whole) work after finishing". 

This little treasure, a beautiful and academically posed female torso woodblock (wood-engraving) print, I was very pleased to swap recently: Euro's for Art. It came from Estonia, one of the Baltic States. The handwriting in the margins was translated by the friendly seller. Possibly a note from the unknown artist to an editor, perhaps of a book, scribbled on this "epreuve d'artiste" or "artist proof". Would I like to know and find the finished result and publication !

When looking for similar prints in execution (classic or academically posed female nudes in wood-engraving  and woodcut printing) you'll find not that many examples. American wood-engraver Paul Landacre (1893-1863) is one of the artists that comes to mind (above). 

And also British sculptor (very discussed because of his obsessive life-stile)  Eric Gill (1882-1940) but they have strong personal and clearly different styles.

And there is German born American Emil Ganso (1895-1941), who was a painter and wood-engraver specialized in still-lives, landscapes and nudes. He was largely self-taught and emigrated, penniless, to the US in 1912 working as a baker pursuing his art until being discovered in the mid-1920's. 

All pictures borrowed freely from the internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only. 


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Who was Erwin Frommbach ?

Erwin Frommbach

(born 6 september 1892 and active in Berlin around 1920)

Unknown German painter and printmaker 
Musician and director of a puppet theater in Berlin.

Who was this amateur printmaker, able to create this delightful little print of a "Havellandschaft" (Havel landscape) measuring only 8 x 10 cm.? It depicts the beautiful lake-district formed by the river Havel, surrounding the great city of Berlin and Potsdam on a sunny summers day in fresh and bright colors. It was where the great German impressionist Max Liebermann (1847-1935) lived on its borders and painted the scenery and mundane crowds on numerous occasions:

and an inspiration to many Berlin artists, like Walter Leistikow (1885-1948):

All I was able to find about Erwin Frommbach is that he was living and working in Berlin at the "Reichversicherung für Angestellte" (this national social-security system for middle-class personal was instituted in 1911). He also was a musician and worked as puppeteer, owning a puppet theater later carried on by his son Horst Frommbach. And I learned that Erwin had a sister (no name) that was the mother of Klaus Loose who was the founding father of the famous Bamberg Puppet Theater (Bamberger Marionetten Theater). In an interview that I've found in the Internet he remembered his relatives in Berlin very well and tells of the inspiration he found in the artistic environment of his uncle and nephew in Berlin before WW2.  

And researching I found these two paintings by Erwin Frommbach. But I like his print best. With this initial article/posting I'm confident with the help from readers and passers-by more information about this printmaker will surface in future. 

All pictures borrowed freely from the internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.