Max Burchartz

Biography

Typography, books, posters, photomontage. Born 28 July 1887 in Elberfeld (now part of Wuppertal). 1904-6: first trained in his father’s textile factory, then studied at the Elberfeld Kunstgewerbeschule. 1906-8: trained at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie, with further studies in Munich (1909) and Berlin (1910). 1912-14: studied painting in Paris. 1914-18: military service. After World War I he was in Weimar, Bochum and Hannover, and had contacts with Kurt Schwitters, Käte Steinitz and El Lissitzky; his work showed the influence of Constructivism and that of De Stijl. 1920: joined the Hannover Sezession. 1922: left Hannover for Weimar. 1923: stopped illustrating; became interested in industrial and interior design as well as advertising design. 1924: founded Werbebau studio with Johannes Canis in Bochum. His early book designs influenced by the work of Jan Tschichold. 1926-33: taught advertising design, typography, photography at the Essen Folkwangschule until dismissed by the NS, but by May 1933 he was a member of several NS organisations (according to a biography in Burchartz, 1993). 1927: with Kurt Schwitters, one of the founders of the ring neue werbegestalter (modern advertising designers). 1929: participant in the ‘Film und Foto’ (‘Fifo’) exh ., Stuttgart, organised by Deutscher Werkbund. 1933-9: founded his own advertising studio; designed for publishers, then industrial design. July 1937: one work (a 1921 still life) in ‘Entartete Kunst’ (Degenerate art) exhibition, Munich. 1939-45: military service. 1945: after brief period as prisoner-of-war, he lived in Wolfertshof, Westfalen, before returning to design. 1949-61: taught again at the Folkwangschule, Essen. 1957: awarded Heydt Prize, Wuppertal. Died 31 January 1961 in Essen.

Writings by

  • Gleichnis der Harmonie, Munich: Prestel, 1949
  • Gestaltungslehre (or Gestaltung lehre), Munich: Prestel, 1953
  • Schwarze, rote und Menschen wie wir, Munich: Prestel, 1958
  • Schule des Schauens, Munich: Prestel, 1962
  • for a selection of MB’s writings, 1923-58, see Max Burchartz, 1993, below.
  • ‘handschrift – type [– ] zeichnung – foto, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Jhrg. 3 (1927?), v. 8, pp. 37-44
  • ‘Commercial graphic artists as designers’ (printed fabrics for Pausa), Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Aug. 1959, pp. 36-41

Writings about

    ‘Die neue Umschlag unserer Zeitschrift’, Die Form, 1928, v. 13, pp. 368-72
  • Jan Tschichold, ‘Fotografie und Typografie’, Die Form, 1928, v. 5, pp. 140-50
  • Otto Galley, ‘Der Industrie-Westen’, Das Kunstblatt, Oct. 1929, pp. 288-90 (industrial graphs)
  • Heinz and Bodo Rasch, Gefesselter Blick, Stuttgart: Zaugg, 1930, pp. 26-34 (repr. Baden, Switzerland: Müller, 1996)
  • Jan Tschichold, ‘New life in print’, Commercial Art, 1930, IX, pp. 1-20 (‘The New Typography’ explained)
  • Kurt Wilhelm-Kästner, ‘Max Burchartz-Essen als Typograph und Buchgestalter’, Imprimatur, 1931, pp. 44-51 plus 4-p. inset
  • Fritz Helmuth Ehmcke, ‘Lob der Grafik’, Die Form, 1931, v. 10, pp. 361-6 (work of MB , F.H. Ehmcke, Kurt Schwitters) note on Gestaltungslehre, in Graphis 52, 1954, p. 165 note on Schwarze, rote…, in Graphis 77, 1958, p. 274 note on Schule des Schauens, in Graphis 108, 1963, p. 346
  • GKS, 1963, p. 230
  • Inka Graeve, ‘Die “Fifo”’ (Film und Foto exh ., 1929), Bildende Kunst, 1989, 10, pp. 23-5
  • SB, 1991, esp. p. 212
  • Typografische Arbeiten 1924-31. Max ist endlich auf dem richtigen Weg: Max Burchartz, 1887-1961 (exh. cat.), Frankfurt a.M.: Deutsche Werkbund, and Müller, 1993 (reprints of MB’s work of 1924-31, and writings of that period
  • includes biographical details)
  • Volker Rattemeyer, Dietrich Helms and others, Ring ‘neue werbegestalter’. Amsterdamer Ausstellung von 1931 (additional on title page: ‘“Typographie kann unter Umständen Kunst sein”’) (exh. cat.), Wiesbaden: Museum Wiesbaden, 1990
  • JA, 2000, esp. pp. 156-62, 172-5
  • Richard Hollis, Swiss Graphic Design, London: King, 2006
  • Christopher Wilk (ed.), Modernism, London: V&A, 2006 (h/b, p/b).
  • Otto Bettmann, ‘Max Burchartz’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., July 1932, pp. 288-94
  • R. Hausmann, ‘Visual reading the aim of future book typography’ (new designs for type), Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., June 1930, pp. 50-55
  • obituary, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., May 1961, p. 56
  • Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie, Munich, London, New Providence: K.G. Saur 1995- (from 1997: Munich only)., 1995
  • Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, Munich/Leipzig: K.G. Saur Verlag, 1990-., 1997
  • Friedrich Friedl, Nicolaus Ott, Bernard Stein, Typography – when/who/how, Cologne: Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, 1998., 1998

Exhibitions

  • 1st International Exhibition of Art, Düsseldorf, 1922
  • Weimar, 1922 (with Walter Dexel and others)
  • Stadttheater, Jena, 1923
  • Ring neue Werbegestalter, Cologne, 1928
  • Folkwang, Essen, 1962 (memorial exh.)
  • Landesmuseum, Wiesbaden, 1990 (ring ‘neue Werbegestalter’
  • then to Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich)
  • Deutscher Werkbund, Frankfurt a.M., 1993.