Gallery East Network

Art / Performance / Education

Ludwig Hohlwein



Ludwig Hohlwein is a seminal figure in the history of poster art and graphic design. The incredibly versatile artist and decorator originally trained as an architect and by 1904, at the age of 30, turned his attention to advertising. Completely self-taught as a graphic designer, he was strongly influenced by the revolutionary work of the Beggarstaff Brothers in England and rejected the decorative flourishes of the preceding Art Nouveau style.

Hohlwein was a master illustrator of extreme skill and nuance, and created rich characterizations that were emboldened by flat, geometric patterns of striking color.

Highly productive as a poster artist (Plakatmeister), Hohlwein created more than 1000 poster designs in his long career; his high tonal contrasts and network of interlocking shapes made his work instantly recognizable. Hohlwein was employed by the German government during the First World War to produce propaganda posters where he worked mostly in München. Leading poster historian Alain Weill considers him “the most prolific and brilliant German poster artist of the 20th century.”

Hohlwein biographer Hermann Karl Frenzel was first trained as a scientific draughtsman and, later, as a painter and graphic artist at the Leipzig Akademie der bildenden Künste. In 1910, he settled in Berlin, first working for a newspaper publisher, then as an independent artist. His career was interrupted by the war of 1914-18 after which he began to design posters and organize activities in the field of commercial art. In 1920 he became one of the founders of the BDG (Bund Deutscher Gebrauchsgraphiker) an association of German graphic designers. In 1924 Frenzel founded, and was publisher and editor-in-chief of Gebrauchsgraphik, a journal of international commercial art which was very important in publicizing the work of established and up-coming artists and designers.

The following original lithographic prints are from Ludwig Hohlwein by Frenzel, published in Berlin in 1926. This volume documented the work to date of the greatest German poster artist of the era with fabulous quality lithograph and photogravure plate miniatures of his posters. The color lithographs and photogravure plates from the book are highly collectable and examples of the work of a great master.