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  • Colored Lithographs as Pictorial Wall Decoration in School and Home ca 1895–1918.

Colored Lithographs as Pictorial Wall Decoration in School and Home ca 1895–1918.

Karl Biese, Scheidender Tag, Farblithigraphie, ca. 1905
Research: Winfried Müller
Technical assistance: Michael Schmidt

Since the 1890s, the colored lithography, a technique allowing high circulations, became popular. According to the intention of the arts and crafts movement, homes and schools could be provided with ambitious and, at the same time, inexpensive, original graphic artworks. Namely the Grötzingen artists ’ colony resp. Karlsruhe with its artists ’ association (“Künstlerbund”) of 1896, became the “first place in Germany...in the area of colored lithographs” (Hans W. Singer). But also in Dresden, Düsseldorf, Berlin, and Munich, a number of distinguished artists could be won over for the movement. As far as motives are concerned, the colored lithographs are part of the nationalist “Heimatkunst”-movement of around 1900. They intended to be a genuine German contribution (“Deutsche Künstlersteinzeichnung”) to the history of art. Up to now, the artists ’ lithographs have met with little attention, among other things because of the fact that they are positioned at the interface between art history and cultural anthropology. Firstly, the lithographs are “only” prints. Their partly considerable distribution puts them into the vicinity of mass culture. In addition, the graphic artists who worked in that genre were, without exception, representatives of styles that preceded classical modernism. We do not find a “Blue Rider” among them, but significant representatives of the Karlsruhe school like Gustav Kampmann, Karl Biese or Hans Richard von Volkmann, or of Munich “Jugendstil” like Walter Georgi and Angelo Jank, or Dresden artists like Fritz Beckert. Because of their undeniable artistic value, the artists ’ lithographs came not in the focus of cultural anthropology which mainly took interest in the picture factories of the 19th and 20th century and their production of trivial wall decoration. But from this product lines with their chromolithographies or later offset prints of roaring stags, guardian angels, and fairy dances aiming at the petite bourgeoisie, the “Künstlersteinzeichnungen” programmatically dissociated themselves. In its first part, next to making statements on production techniques and the history of the publishing houses, the project aims at an integration of the genre into the arts and crafts movement of around 1900. The main focus lies on the large Leipzig publishing houses B.G. Teubner and R. Voigtländer that cooperated with the Karlsruhe artists ’ association since the Dresden conference on art education in 1901. But also publishers like Fischer & Franke (Berlin/Düsseldorf), Merfeld & Donner (Leipzig), and Hubert Köhler (Munich), today no longer known, are of interest. The analytical chapters will be followed by biograms and catalogs of works.