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ScanImage305Reproduction by offset lithography of a woodcut by Antonio Frasconi featured on the inside cover of our copy of Volume 53 of the Penrose Annual, A review of the Graphic Arts 1959.

The Penrose Annual was the seminal publication on printing and the graphic arts in the United Kingdom for decades, especially during the fifties and sixties.

Many of the best printers, type and graphic designers collaborated on the staff of this annual publication. Among them was Fritz Eichenberg, Chairman of the Department of Graphic Arts at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. 

The article below was written by him and offers a sound review of the development of graphic design during the period in the United States. I believe it to be important enough to still share it today with a larger audience, who are interested in the many different aspects of the history of graphic design and printing.

In the original publication the illustrations are interspersed with the text, but for better readability the illustrations follow at the end of this post, in our case. Bound volumes are hard to scan so imperfection in scanning although not our custom is unavoidable at times.

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ScanImage314 ScanImage315 ScanImage316 ScanImage318 ScanImage319 ScanImage320 ScanImage321 ScanImage322 ScanImage323 ScanImage324 ScanImage325A fine on line review of the Penrose Annual can be read in Eye Magazine here.

Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990) born in Cologne Germany was a highly sucessful woodblock artist himself and a prolific book illustrator, a different aspect of his work can be found on this site by the artist John Kohan.

To use Fritz Eichenberg’s own words:

Well, I picked my teachers. I worked as an advertising artist in my early youth. I was eighteen or nineteen when I left Cologne, and I worked in a department store as a guy for everything – you know; I did posters and advertising. I was an apprentice in a lithographic print shop before I took on my first job. So, I became interested in lithography and I did a lot of lithographs on my own. My great idols were Goya, Durer and Kathe Kollwitz, and so on. This gave me actually the direction in which I wanted to proceed. I did this with a single mindedness all my life. I never had any appetite for leaving this line. It was so clear to me that this was desirable for me. When I was an apprentice, I did my first lithographs very much influenced by Goya and Daumier, I would say. I was seventeen or eighteen. Then I had to make a living, and I went to work in a department store and after two years, I told the head of it that I would like to study seriously. I had been studying at night in the art schools in Cologne. I would like to go to Leipzig to the Academy of Graphic Arts because I wanted to study with Hugo Steinerpark who was a well known illustrator and perhaps overrated, if you think of him now. At the time he gave me a feeling that this was the right man for me. He was not only interested in the illus- tration, but in the book as a whole – the design, the binding, the type – the illustrations were just a part of his work. He was the head designer for Ulstein Books, which are still beautiful. He did most of the bindings, and they were just marvelous. I studied under him and became almost immediately one of his master students; that meant that I had the privilege of having a studio by myself under the roof of the academy. The academy was a huge building almost like the supreme court — built along those lines. It had really everything that a graphic art school should have and never has. It had a marvelous scholastic program. We had Pindar as a lecturer in the history of art. He was the great authority on the Renaissance. We had all the machinery that you have to know in the graphic arts. You had the instructors in the various graphic media. Leipzig was the center of the book publishing world really at the time, which it isn’t any more. I had a marvelous time working more or less by myself for myself. I began to illustrate books right away. I did Gulliver’s Travels and Dostoevski, whom I always adored as an author. The first book was Crime and Punishment, and I did it while I was a student. Then came 1932 —

from the transcript of an interview with Fritz Eichenberg, the Oral history interview with Fritz Eichenberg, 1964 Dec. 3, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.