Fritz Eichenberg

From Academic Kids

Fritz Eichenberg (October 24, 1901November 30, 1990) was a German-American illustrator who worked primarily in wood engraving. His best-known work was concerned with religion, social justice and nonviolence.

Eichenberg was born in Cologne, where the destruction of World War I helped to form his anti-war beliefs. He worked as a printer's apprentice, and studied at the Municipal School of Applied Arts in Cologne and the Academy of Graphic Arts in Leipzig. In 1923 he moved to Berlin to begin his career as an artist, producing illustrations for books and newspapers. In his newspaper and magazine work, Eichenberg was politically outspoken and sometimes both wrote and illustrated his own reporting.

In 1933, the rise of Adolf Hitler convinced Eichenberg (who was of Jewish descent and had been a public critic of the Nazis) that it was not safe to remain in Germany. He emigrated with his wife and children to the United States, settling in New York City, where he remained for most of his life. He taught art at the New School for Social Research and at Pratt Institute, and was part of the WPA's Federal Arts Project.

In his extremely prolific career as a book illustrator, Eichenberg worked with many forms of literature but focused on material with elements of extreme spiritual and emotional conflict, fantasy, or social satire; authors he illustrated include Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Charlotte and Emily Brontė, Poe, Swift, and Grimmelshausen. He also wrote and illustrated many books of folklore and children's stories.

Raised in a non-religious family, Eichenberg had been attracted to Taoism as a child. Following his wife's unexpected death in 1937, he turned briefly to the practice of Zen Buddhist meditation, then joined the Religious Society of Friends in 1940. Though he remained a Quaker until his death, Eichenberg was also associated with Catholic charity work through his friendship with Dorothy Day—whom he met at a Quaker conference on religion and publishing in 1949—and frequently contributed illustrations to Day's newspaper the Catholic Worker.

Selected works

  • The Art of the Print: Masterpieces, History, and Technique, 1976

External links

  • Eichenberg interview (http://artarchives.si.edu/oralhist/eichen64.htm) - from Smithsonian Archives of American Art
  • Pendle Hill Pamphlets (http://www.pendlehill.org/pendle_hill_pamphlets.htm) - publishes two pamphlets written and illustrated by Eichenberg, Art and Faith (1952) and Artist on the Witness Stand (1984), and the biographical essay Letting That Go, Keeping This (2001) by Philip Harnden
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