Wilhelm Deffke

Biography

Publicity, posters, stamps. Born Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Deffke 23 April 1887 in Elberfeld. 1901-7: studied book design and binding at the Elberfeld Staatliche Handwerker- und Kunstgewerbeschule under Heinrich Phieler, Eberhard Abele, J.A. Loeber. 1909-10: worked in Peter Behrens’s studio at Neubabelsberg. 1910-12: taught at the Reimann School, Berlin. 1912: head of commercial art course, Höhere Fachschule für Dekorationskunst (Reimann School), Berlin; started own studio. Artistic adviser to the printer/publisher Otto Elsner Verlag. ‘The most gifted [pre Great War poster artist] was Wilhelm Deffke, whose posters, designed for the printing firm of Elsner, represent work of enduring value.’ (H.K. Frenzel, 1926) 1914-15: military service. 1915: with Carl Ernst Hinkefuss, founded Wilhelmwerk, associated with Elsner Verlag. Won poster competitions. 1920-25: freelance in Berlin. 1929: designed the Norddeutscher Lloyd exhibition stand, Advertising Exhibition, Berlin. 1925-33: taught at Kunstgewerbe- und Handwerkerschule, Magdeburg (later head); joined NSDAP when the school was threatened by closure. ‘[He] argued for modern design’s link to Nazi policy on account of the party’s technological sophistication and opposition to narrow provincialism.’ (S. Simmons, p. 336, fn. 26) 1946-50: returned to teaching at the Kunstgewerbe- und Handwerkerschule, Magdeburg. 1949: helped to set up Berlin branch of Bund Deutscher Gebrauchsgraphiker (BDG). His clients had included Hamburg-Amerika Line, Krupp, Mercedes-Benz, AEG, BMW. Died 28 August 1950 in Woltersdorf near Berlin, age 63.

Writings by

  • Handelsmarken und Fabrikzeichen (with Carl Ernst Hinkefuss), Berlin: Wilhelmwerk, 1916.

Writings about

  • F.H. Ehmcke, ‘Wahrzeichen – Warenzeichen’ (trademarks), Das Plakat, Feb. 1921, pp. 69-100
  • ‘William Deffke’, Seidels Reklame, 1/1923, Berlin
  • Carl Ernst Hinkefuss, 10 Jahre deutsche Werbegraphik, Berlin: Internatio, 1923
  • Jan Tschichold, ‘New life in print’, Commercial Art, 1930, IX, pp. 1-20 (‘The New Typography’ explained) Roman Busse, ‘Prof. Wilhelm Deffke’ (obituary), Graphik, 1950, 11, pp. 602-3
  • M. Puhle, ed., Die Kunstgewerbe- und Handwerkerschule Magdeburg 1793-1963 (exh. cat.), Magdeburg, 1965(?)
  • Graphik, Dec. 1968, p. 9 (logo, 1922)
  • Klaus-Jürgen Sembach, 1910: Halbzeit der Moderne, Stuttgart: Hatje, 1992
  • B. Sülzen, Wilhelm Deffke, Werkverzeichnis und Lebenslauf, Berlin, 1993
  • Walter F. Schubert, Die deutsche Werbegraphik, Berlin: Francke & Lang, 1927. , 1927, p. 105
  • Die Kunstgewerbe- und Handwerkerschule, Magdeburg, 1793-1963, Magdeburg, 1993
  • Sherwin Simmons, ‘”Hand to the Friend, Fist to the Foe”’, Journal of Design History, v. 13, no. 4, 2000, pp. 319-39 Steven Heller, ‘Wilhelm Deffke[,] Modern mark maker’, baseline, no. 49, 2006, pp. 21-8.
  • Wilhelm Defke, pioneer of the modern logo, Bröhan Design Foundation, Berlin, 2013 (University of Chicago Press, 2014)
  • H.K. Frenzel, ‘25 Years of [the] German poster’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., no. 4, 1925, Jhrg. 2, pp. 1-46, esp. pp. 14, 15 (Hamburg-Amerika), 40 H.K. Frenzel, ‘The Advertising Exhibition, 1929, Berlin’, 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. 8, p. 17 (exhibition stand)
  • H.K. Frenzel, ‘Back to twenty years ago’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Jan. 1934, pp. 17-32, esp. pp. 18, 19, 32
  • Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., 1939, p. 637 (Reemtsma logo)
  • Egon Juda, ‘Prof. Wilhelm Deffke’ (obituary), Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Aug. 1950, p. 63
  • Friedrich Friedl, Nicolaus Ott, Bernard Stein, Typography – when/who/how, Cologne: Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, 1998., 1998
  • Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, Munich/Leipzig: K.G. Saur Verlag, 1990-., 2000

Exhibitions

  • Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen, Magdeburg, 1965(?)
  • Museum Folkwang, 2013-14

Collections

  • Akademie der Künste, Berlin.