c.1920-1930 · Bratislava, Slovakia
Excellent small collection of highly original, stamped Ex Libris prints by painter and graphic illustrator Karl Hugo Frech, [Karl Naughty] (1883-1945). While Frech's are probably the most notable Slovakian bookplates ever produced, they remain almost completely unstudied and unknown. Frech's bookplates received numerous commissions from many important figures of Bratislava (formerly Pressburg). Incredibly, in bookplate scholarship, Frech's name is virtually unrecorded.
Frech was born in Stuttgart, Germany. He studied lithography at G.F. Schreiber Art Institute in Esslingen, and between 1903 and 1905 he attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Stuttgart, where he later worked as an illustrator and graphic artist. In 1914 he married and
moved to Bratislava (formerly Pressburger), where he spent most of his life. He made his living as a painter and a graphic artist; he was also member of the Pressburger Kunstverein. Although he contributed illustrations to the Pressburger Zeitung newspaper and numerous books, his exlbiris designs are particularly prolific due to the occult and esoteric themes and unusual size. While bookplates are generally reflections of the unique eccentricities of collectors, the occult themes in the art are reflected of the Occult Revival and metaphysical interest in the Art Nouveau periods. There is scarce literature published in English to support any of Frechs individual interest in the occult, however, given the time period and clients, it is possible the commissions were specific. The symbolism in the bookplates range from esoteric, Hermeticism, Eastern philosophies, Mesmerism, and astrology.
Frech died on 27 July 1945 while trying to escape from a camp for displaced Germans near the Austrian town of Steyr. Sadly, many of the books in Dr. Faustus personal library, assuming with his bookplates were looted and destroyed during World War II. (Inventory #: 9735)