Poster, Herrsching Keramische Werkstätten, 1910
This early modern German poster is by Ludwig Hohlwein, the most innovative Munich-based graphic designer of his era. Hohlwein’s bold images, high-keyed colors, and decorative fonts on uniform grounds have impacted the graphic design work of everyone from A. M. Cassandre and Jean Carlu to Herbert Matter, Joseph Binder, and Paul Rand, to name a few.
In the field of modern graphics, German designers were a major generative force in the first decade of the 20th century. With the founding of the Deutscher Werkbund, architects, industrial designers, and graphic designers came together to forge an alliance between art and industry. The 1907 collaboration between Werkbund member Peter Behrens and Emil Rathenau, president of Allgemeine Elektricitäts Gesellschaft (AEG), when Behrens organized AEG's first corporate design makeover (including architecture, product design, and graphic design), is the most celebrated example of this modern design ethic. During this period, the poster served as a testing ground for the alliance of art and industry in Germany. To further this end, Dr. Hans Sachs founded the Friends of the Poster Society in Berlin, and the magazine Das Plakat, which featured contemporary German poster design. The name of the magazine gave birth to the term "Plakatstil," which was associated with bold lettering, a simple central image, and distinctive eye-catching colors. Both Munich and Berlin became vortexes of this style, also called sachplakat or object poster.
Hohlwein owes his aesthetic style to a major 1898 design exhibition held at Munich’s Glaspalast that showcased the French art nouveau graphics of Jules Chéret, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Alphonse Mucha, as well as the English Arts and Crafts design team known as The Beggarstaffs, comprised of James Pryde and William Nicholson. The Beggarstaffs pioneered the use of cut colored paper to create their designs, which juxtaposed flat forms and patterns with positive and negative shapes. A number of Beggarstaff poster maquettes were on exhibition in the Munich show.
Hohlwein began his career as graphic designer in 1906, after studying architecture. Hohlwein combined flat forms with a rich range of texture and decorative patterning. Many of his early posters advertised clothing manufacturers and retail stores such as his poster and logo for his friend Hermann Scherrer’s clothing shop (1907) or his poster and Marque PKZ logo for the Swiss candy company Kehl (1908). Hohlwein is also well known for his propaganda posters during World War I and World War II, including a 1936 Olympics poster that incorporated classical images with strong tonal contrasts.
This Hohlwein poster, from 1910, advertises the Herrsching Ceramics Workshop sale at 9 Maffeistrasse in Munich. The poster uses touche rather than normal printing inks to create a puddle pattern on the surface. This is combined with a playful repetition of motifs like the clover-leaf highlights on the ceramics and a bold, blocky decorative font.
The Herrsching Ceramics Workshop existed from 1908 to 1914 as part of the Debschitz-Schule, a school for training artists and craftsmen in the Jugendstil. The founders of the school were Hermann Obrist, the pivotal figure who introduced the Jugendstil in Munich, and Wilhelm von Debschitz. The artists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Sophie Taeuber-Arp both studied as the Debschitz-Schule.
Hohlwein is earmarked on the priority list for addition to the museum’s graphic design holdings. This Herrsching poster is particularly suited to Cooper-Hewitt’s design and decorative arts mission as it advertises ceramics design in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century.
This object was
General Acquisitions Endowment.
It is credited
Gift of the Eric Kellenberger Collection, Switzerland and museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment.
Its dimensions are
Overall: 123 x 85 cm (48 7/16 x 33 7/16 in.)
It is signed
Inscribed on stone with red logo, center left: LUDWIG HOHLWEIN/MUNCHEN
It is inscribed
Inscribed on stone in blue above image: HERRSCHING; below image, KERAMISCHE/WERKSTATTEN/MUENCHEN/HERRSCHING/VERKAUFSSTELLE/IN MUENCHEN//MAFFEISTR.NO 9; in red rectangle to lower left of image: LUDWIG HOHLWEIN/MUNCHEN; in lower center:
Cite this object as
Poster, Herrsching Keramische Werkstätten, 1910; lithograph on paper, lined; Overall: 123 x 85 cm (48 7/16 x 33 7/16 in.); Gift of the Eric Kellenberger Collection, Switzerland and museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment; 2005-12-1
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Looking Forward/ Looking Back: Recent Acquisitions in 20th- and 21st-Century Design.