Hugo Steiner-Prag

Biography

Illustrations, book- and jacket designs, binding designs, posters, trademarks, set designs. Born Hugo Steiner, 12 December 1880 in Prague. Born Jewish but baptized into the Christian faith in 1904. His professional life was spent almost entirely in Germany. 1899: studied at the Prague Academy of Art. 1900: added his birthplace to his name; moved to Munich to study painting under Franz von Stuck at the Königliche Akademie der bildenden Künste, soon transferring to the Lehr- und Versuchswekstätten für freie und angewandte Kunst where he became a teacher in 1902. 1905: taught at the Barmen Kunstgewerbeschule where he established a bookmaking and commercial art department. 1907: began a long teaching career (to 1933) at the Leipzig State Academy for the Book Trade and Graphic Arts (Akademie für graphische Künste und Buchgewerbe). 1912: his typeface ‘Hugo-Steiner-Prag-Schrift’ issued by Genzsch & Heyse, Hamburg (Steiner-Prag-Fraktur: 1914). 1917-33: freelance artistic director of the Berlin publisher Propyläen, designing many books in an ornate manner; worked for other publishers including Cotta, Schünemann, Wolff, Bibliographical Institute of Leipzig. He was a gifted teacher and illustrator, designed sets for the Leipzig theatre, and organised the local Arts Ball. From 1925: chairman of the Association of German Book Artists (Verein deutscher Buchkünstler) and president of the important and influential 1927 International Exhibition of the Book Arts held in Leipzig which made his name throughout the international book world; the other organisers were Walter Tiemann and Georg A. Mathéy. 1928: organiser of the section German Graphic and Book Arts at the International Press Exhibition (Pressa), Cologne, and awarded ‘Golden Ring’ for his organisation of the Leipzig exhibition of the previous year. ‘Everyone who has the cultivation, the fashioning, the outward form of the Book Beautiful at heart has known for the past two decades that Hugo Steiner-Prag stands in the forefront of this group…which out of passionate devotion to the book, puts its entire talents in the service of this eternally beautiful and desirable object.’ (Osborn, 1928) 1929: organiser of the German Book Arts section, Barcelona World’s Fair. 15 December 1930: awarded certificate by the BDG for his services to publishing. 1931: responsible for the German section of the Salon International du Livre d’Art Contemporain, Paris. 1932: organised the Goethe in the Book Art of the World international exhibition, Leipzig, having written to 100 artists asking them to contribute an illustration (for Goethe’s Faust).

But his conversion to the Christian faith three decades earlier meant nothing to the Nazi authorities of 1933 and he was dismissed from his post at the Academy on 1 October. ‘Willi Geiger and Hugo Steiner-Prag were the first sacrifices claimed by the wild Nationalism.’ (Hellmuth Weissenborn, Illustration 63, Aug. 1980). He returned to Prague where the government helped him to start a small private school for the book arts and advertising design, the Officina Pragensis at Valdštýnskénám 2; organized the International Collection of Modern Book Art. 1938: before the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia he was invited to Stockholm to establish a similar school (Skolan för Bok- och Reklamkonst), remaining there for three years. 15 May 1941: he left Stockholm. June 1941: his third emigration: escape from Europe arranged by Count Folke Bernadotte, Alexandra Kollontay, George Macy (of the Limited Editions Club), Otto Fuhrmann (Director of Division of Graphic Arts, New York University) and others; offered a post at the Division of Graphic Arts, New York University, where he arrived in October after travelling eastward across the Soviet Union and Japan.

Steiner-Prag later wrote (quoted in a publicity leaflet issued by the publisher Curt Visel upon the publication of Schlegel, 1995): ‘The Limited Editions Club has given me a past which could frighten me in my dreams. In one of their monthly letters they have described me fleeing Germany, hounded out of Czechoslowakia, spied upon by the Gestapo in Sweden and making the journey to America with the shadow of doom overhead. None of this is true.

‘I’m one of the very fortunate [few] who escaped from the very beginning [of] Nazi terror and Nazi cruelty. In truth, I left Germany voluntarely [sic] with all my belongings. I left Prague a half year before Hitler came to invade Czechoslowakia with all that I wished to take with me. I finally left Sweden without being hunted by anyone, because no Gestapo or Nazi have [sic] power in Sweden. Then I had the most fascinating trip to Moscow as guest of the Soviet Society of foreign relationship [sic] and made my trip to San Franzisco [sic] in comfort and quietness.’

He designed and illustrated limited editions for Random House and other New York publishers, became art director of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and joined with a group of artists interested in stamp design (during the war he had designed a postage stamp: ill. in Print, v. III, no. 3, 1943, p. 28). ‘[Steiner-Prag] did more than any other man to popularise modern fine printing.’ (E. Steiner-Prag, 1945) He died 10 September 1945 in New York.

Writings by

    ‘Über die Zusammenarbeit von Verleger und Buchkünstler’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., 1926? (v. 7), pp. 71-2, 74
  • ‘Das schöne Bucheinband’, Berliner Tageblatt, 22 Feb. 1923
  • ‘Die Internationale Buchkunst-Ausstellung, Leipzig 1927’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., 1927, 10/12, pp. 569-71
  • ‘Über die Zusammenarbeit von Verleger und Buchkünstler’, Gutenberg Festschrift, 1925, pp. 175-8
  • ‘Zur Internationalen Buchkunst-Ausstellung, Leipzig 1927’, Deutscher Drucker, May 1927, pp. 657-8
  • quote from Leipzig, in Albert Schramm, ‘Die Internationale Buchkunst-Ausstellung in Leipzig’, Archiv für Schreib- und Buchwesen, August 1927, pp. 53-5
  • ‘Der Verein deutsche Buchkünstler’ (Foreword), Internationale Buchkunst Ausstellung Leipzig 1927. Amtlicher Katalog, Leipzig: Insel, 1927, pp. 9-11
  • Preface to Leipzigs Wirken am Buch, Leipzig, 1927, pp. 9-11
  • 1922-9: ‘Über Gebrauchsgraphik’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., Jan./Feb. 1922 (Leipzig no.), pp. 3-4
  • ‘Über die Beteiligung der Künstler an der Entwicklung des neuzeitlichen deutschen Bucheinbandes’ (bindings), Jahrbuch der Einbandkunst, 1927, pp. 152-60
  • 1930-present: ‘The free-lance, the commercial artist, and the order’, Buch- und Werbekunst, Nov. 1932, pp. 343-5
  • introduction in official catalogue, Goethe in der Buchkunst der Welt, Leipzig: Verein Deutsche Buchkünstler, 1932
  • ‘European books and designers’, The Dolphin, 1933, pp. 209-49
  • ‘Marks, Bookplates, Monograms, and Imprints’, Print, Oct.-Dec. 1941, pp. 64-5
  • ‘Zur Eröffnung der Ausstellung “Mitteldeutsche Gebrauchsgraphik”’ (text of a speech), Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., 1929, v. 12, p. 82
  • ‘Über die Auswahl der “Funfzig schönsten Bucher”’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., April 1932, pp. 163-5
  • ‘Bemerkungen zum Aufbau der Ausstellung “Goethe in der Buchkunst der Welt”’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., June 1932, pp. 247-53
  • ‘Epilog zur Ausstellung “Goethe in der Buchkunst der Welt”’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., 1932, pp. 507-12
  • ‘Ein Leben für das schöne Buch’ (written Oct. 1941), in Eleanor Steiner-Prag and Willi Geiger, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1955, pp. 196-203
  • two essays in Franz Hadamowsky and Josef Mayerhöfer (eds.), Hugo Steiner-Prag (exh. cat.), Vienna: Gesellschaft der Freunde der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, 1955
  • Rund um Pařižská 28 (facsimile ed. of 1935 Skizzenbuches), Madison, NJ: Fairley Dickinson Univ. and Curt Visel, 1987
  • ‘Buchkünstler und Bucheinband’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., v. 11, 1925, pp. 82-4

Writings about

  • Vollmer, 1958
  • GKS, 1963, p. 123 (Bugra)
  • Benezit, 2006 (includes auction record, 1988)
  • ‘Hugo Steiner-Prag’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., 1927, no. 2, pp. 33-46
  • Hugo Steiner-Prag. Sonderausstellung buchgewerblicher und illustrativer Arbeiten aus den Jahren 1906-10 (exh. cat.), Leipzig, 1911
  • L. Deubner, ‘The art of the book in Germany’, in Charles Holme (ed.), The Art of the Book, London/Paris/New York: The Studio, 1914 (repr. Dorset Press, 1990), pp. 134, 172, 173
  • 1925-30: Albert Schramm, ‘Hugo Steiner-Prag’, Taschenbuch für Bücherfreunde, 1925, 1, pp. 42-55
  • Julius Zeitler, ‘Über Künstlersignete’, Die Reklame, Feb. 1925, pp141-3, 145
  • Franz Servaes, ‘Die Buchgraphik von Hugo Steiner-Prag’, Die Kunst für Alle, 1925, 40, pp. 182-92
  • 1908-24: Friedrich Selle, ‘Hugo Steiner-Prag’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., April 1908, pp. 135-41 plus 4p. inset
  • F. Selle, ‘Hugo Steiner-Prag’ (series: Deutsche Buchkünstler der Gegenwart, 1), Zeitschrift für Bücherfreunde , 1909/10, pp. 81-108
  • Paul Westheim, ‘Haussegen und Wandsprüche’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., 1910, pp. 234-7 (esp. p. 235)
  • Georg Biermann, ‘Neue deutsche Buchkunst’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., April 1911, pp. 104-12
  • Wilhelm Dearneborg, ‘Das gute Buch’ (bindings for Der Propylaen Verlag), Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., 1925, v. 11, pp. 1-14
  • Albert Schramm, ‘Die Internationale Buchkunst-Ausstellung in Leipzig’, Archiv für Schreib- und Buchwesen, August 1927, pp. 49-55 (includes list of designers exhibiting)
  • Max Osborn (intro.), Hugo Steiner-Prag, Berlin: Phönix, 1928
  • Richard Braungart, ‘Hugo Steiner-Prag’, Exlibris, Dec. 1930, pp. 33-42
  • Konrad F. Bauer, Julius Rodenberg, Hugo Steiner-Prag zum fünfzigsten Geburtstag, Leipzig, 1930
  • ‘Professor Steiner-Prag – 50 Jahre’, Deutscher Drucker, Dec. 1930, p. 132
  • Geschenk-Kassette: a box, bound by Ignatz Wiemeler, was presented to Steiner-Prag on the occasion of his 50th birthday on 12 December 1930. The box contained 43 contributions of original works by artist/designers including H. Wieynck, G.A. Mathéy, E. Preetorius, F.H. Ehmcke, R. Koch and Anna Simons. The box was issued by the Verein Deutscher Buchkünstler of which Steiner-Prag was the Chairman
  • it is illustrated in Ignatz Wiemeler: 18 Handeinbände, 1921-38, Rotthalmünster: Tenschert, 1992 (sales cat.)
  • 1931-55: ‘Dr St.’, ’50. Geburtstag von Prof. Steiner-Prag’, Philobiblon, v. 1, 1931, p. 28
  • Hugo Steiner-Prag: utställning av teckningar, grafisk bokkonst, nytto-grafik, scenbilder… ( exh . cat.), Stockholm: Nationalmuseum, 1938
  • Eleanor Steiner-Prag, ‘Hugo Steiner-Prag, 1880-1945’, Print, v. III, no. 4, 1945, pp. 2-3, 66-7
  • Hugo Steiner-Prag, 1880-1945, Woodstock: Elm Tree Press, 1945 (includes checklist of S-P’s illustrated books)
  • The Art News, April 1947, pp. 44-5
  • Hans Bockwitz, Erinnerungen, Leipzig, 1949
  • Franz Hadamowsky and Josef Mayerhöfer (eds.), Hugo Steiner-Prag (exh. cat.), Vienna: Gesellschaft der Freunde der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, 1955
  • Eleanor Steiner-Prag and Willi Geiger, ‘Verläufiger Plan und Notizen für eine Autobiographie “Ein Leben für das Schöne Buch” von Hugo Steiner-Prag’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1955, pp. 196-203
  • Graphik 1956, p. 219 (announcement of memorial exh. at Klingspor Museum)
  • Albert Kapr, ‘“Kulturskandal in der Deutschen Bücherei” zur Auszeichnung der schönsten Bucher 1930-33’, Marginalien, 1973, no. 51, pp. 27-35
  • Ernst Schremmer and others, Hugo Steiner-Prag, 1880-1945 (exh. cat.), Regensburg: Ostdeutsche Galerie, 1975
  • Marietta Kleiss, ‘Hugo Steiner-Prag – Ausstellung in Frankfurt’, Aus dem Antiquariat, 1977, no. 2, pp. A43-5
  • E. Schremmer, ‘Der Illustrator Hugo Steiner-Prag’, Illustration 63, Nov. 1980, pp. 96-102 (includes list of books illustrated 1901-76)
  • Die Insel und die moderne deutsche Buchkunst (auction cat. 257), Hamburg: Hauswedell & Nolte, 21/22 May 1985
  • Pfäfflin, 1986
  • note on HS-P’s Rund um Pařižská 28 (facsimile ed. of 1935 Skizzenbuches), in Illustration 63, Oct. 1987, p. 113
  • Gert Klitzke, ‘Hugo Steiner-Prag’, Traditionen Leipziger Buchkunst, (Albert Kapr, ed.), Leipzig: VEB Fachbuchverlag, 1989, pp. 115-59 (photo of HS-P, p. 114)
  • Justin Howes and Pauline Paucker, ‘German Jews and the graphic arts’, in Year Book XXXIV, Leo Baeck Institute, London: Secker & Warburg, 1989, pp. 443-53 (with additional pp. of illustrations)
  • note in Fine Print, Spring 1990, p. 6
  • 1991-present: Irene Schlegel, Hugo Steiner-Prag: Sein Leben für das schöne Buch, Memmingen: Edition Curt Visel, and Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1995 (German and English text
  • includes bibliography, list of illustrated books)
  • Hans Baier, ‘Internationale Buchkunst-Ausstellung Leipzig 1927. Zugleich eine Erinnerung an Hugo Steiner-Prag’, Marginalien, 1996/1, pp. 43-51 Anja Grebe, ‘40 Jahre Buchkunst in Leipzig’ (anniversary of the Institut für Buchkunst), Illustration 63, 1, 1996, pp. 16-18 Horst Kunze, review of I. Schlegel, Hugo Steiner-Prag (1995), in Marginalien, 1996/3, pp. 71-2 Ronald Salter, ‘Deutsche Emigranten in der amerikanischen Buchkunst’, Marginalien, 1997/3, pp. 6-24
  • Irene Schlegel, ‘Die Officina Pragensis’, Illustration 63, Nov. 1997, pp. 84-9
  • Heinrich Jost, ‘Hugo Steiner-Prag’, Schweizer Graphische Mitteilungen (journal), to 1951. See also Typographische Monatsblätter . , Sept. 1948, pp. 373-5
  • Ernst Fischer and others, Buchgestaltung im Exil 1933-1950. Eine Ausstellung des Deutschen Exilarchivs 1933-1945 Der Deutschen Bibliothek. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003. Very comprehensive. , 2003, p. 131, and biog . pp. 200-201
  • Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., 1926, p. 352 (bookbindings)
  • Johannes Boehland, ‘Hugo Steiner-Prag 50 Jahre’ (birthday), Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Feb. 1931, p. 69
  • 1956-90: Eberhard Hölscher, note on S-P’s Vienna memorial exhibition, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., March 1956, p. 61
  • International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933-45, Munich, New York, London, Paris: K.G. Saur, 1983., 1983
  • Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie, Munich, London, New Providence: K.G. Saur 1995- (from 1997: Munich only)., 1998

Exhibitions

  • Deutsche Buchgewerbemuseum, Leipzig, 1908
  • Rudolfinum, Prague, 1911
  • Neue Galerie, Vienna, 1925
  • National Museum, Stockholm, 1938
  • New York (AIGA), 1942
  • New York Public Library, 1943
  • St Etienne Gallery, New York, 1947 (memorial exh.
  • Hugo Steiner)
  • Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, Vienna, 1955
  • Klingspor Museum, Offenbach a.M. ( memorial exh.), 1956
  • Ostdeutschen Galerie, Regensburg, 1975
  • Deutsche Bibliothek, Frankfurt a.M., 1977.
  • Papers at Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th St., New York 10011 (lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org)
  • Florham-Madison Campus Library, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey
  • New York Public Library
  • Leo Baeck Institute, New York
  • Firestone Library, Princeton University, NJ
  • Klingspor Museum, Offenbach a.M.