1921 · DÃ¼sseldorf
A rare Weimar album devoted to the urbane and “snobistisch” sport of boxing by animportant artist of the time whose work was extensively destroyed by the Nazis.
Large folio (13 1/4" x 17 3/4"). Loose sheets in portfolio. Eight hand-colored lithographs.Text and colophon: 6pp. in French, English, and German, illustrated with offsetphotographs. Board folder (Mappe) with cloth spine (17 1/4" x 21"). Cover lettered ingilt, with photo. Slight soiling of covers. Very fine for text and lithographs. Rare. Mostcopies broken up for prints or destroyed.
Rudolph Grossmann, German artist and illustrator, was born in Freiburg, Germany in1882. He began his education in painting and printmaking at Düsseldorf Academy. In1910, he settled in Berlin. A master of portraits, figures, land-and cityscapes, Grossmannbegan publishing his prints in 1905. Many major publishers in both Germany and Francecommissioned his work.
Though Berlin was his home, he would frequently visit France, both to work and exhibit,and for a brief time, to teach printmaking. In Paris, he became part of the Café du Dômecircle of German artists. Jules Pascin became his teacher and close confidant. During histime in France, he met and became friends with artist George Grosz. While teaching, heintroduced techniques to artist Sonia Delaunay, eventually helping launch her career inthe art world.
Grossmann was already represented by Paul Cassirer in Berlin, who printed his firstseven drawings in the magazine Kunst und Künstler between 1911 and 1914. In 1914,Alfred Flechtheim exhibited the Parisian group of Dôme artists, including Grossmann, inhis Düsseldorf gallery. Grossmann documented life in Berlin in 1933 in his portraits andstreet scenes like no other artist.
In 1928, Grossmann was appointed professor at the Kunsthochschule Berlin, and alsobecame a member of the Berlin Secession and the Deutscher Künstlerbund. In 1934,after the seizure of power by the Nazis, Grossmann was discharged and returned toFreiburg. His art was declared degenerate, and 206 of his works were confiscated. Hisworks were included in the Nazis’ “Degenerate Art” exhibition in 1937 (one of only sixJews to be included), and 391 of his works were removed from German museums.Grossmann died in 1941 following a serious illness. Since many of his works weredestroyed by the Nazis, he has never regained the popularity that he once had.
The publisher of this album is Alfred Flechtheim (1878-1937), a German art dealer, artcollector, and journalist. A victim of Nazi anti-Semitism, he was forced to emigrate in1933, and died, impoverished, in London in 1937.
In 1913, he opened his gallery and became known as the leading dealer in Germany formodern French art, much of it obtained through his friend Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, theeminent Parisian gallerist and German émigré. Despite his ambivalence towardcontemporary German art, Flechtheim eventually also exhibited a select number ofExpressionist, Bauhaus, and Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) artists, including ErnstBarlach, Max Beckmann, George Grosz (under contract from 1925 to 1931), Paul Klee(whom he represented from 1927 to 1933), Oskar Kokoschka, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, andAugust Macke. Flechtheim also published prints by Grosz, Else Lasker-Schüler, LudwigMeidner, and many other now less familiar German artists.
In 1921, Flechtheim began to issue the cosmopolitan art and culture periodical DerQuerschnitt [Cross Section], and three years later, sold it to the publishing housePropyläen. Always profusely illustrated, culturally urbane, Der Querschnitt “attempted todefine just what was aesthetically important for the German—and even the European—sophisticate” (Esau, 870). Lighthearted and snobistisch, it was “written in a literate stylethat presages the New Yorker’s famed ‘Notes and Comments’ sections (872). In additionto the periodical, Flechtheim also published a series of special “mappe” (folder or album)titles with original etchings or lithographs. These special limited editions were aimedtoward the wealthy art “amateur.” Grossmann’s Boxer: Acht Lithographien is anexample.
The sport of boxing was prominent in the illustrations and essays in Der Querschnitt,with much made of Grossmann’s lithographic portfolio depicting boxers in motion. DerQuerschnitt’s merging of high art and popular culture to epitomize cosmopolitanism anda breezy elitist style began to coalesce by the second year of its publication (871).
Avid interest in boxing and “Boxing als Kunst” (boxing as art) was part of Berlin culturallife as it was in Paris. Weimar German boxing symbolized a type of heroics that appealedto the vanquished German people. In modern boxing’s promise of a “different kind ofperson” lay the reason why both the left and the right, both Brecht and Hitler, admired thesport. Flechtheim, who may have been homosexual, appreciated and published malenudes including “aestheticized views of Flechtheim’s favourite boxers in classic nudeposes.” The magazine’s “emphasis on sport and dance was often tied to an eroticizedconcept of the body so integral to Weimar Germany’s approach to modern culture” (879).
Flechtheim declared in a 1921 editorial a duty to “promote boxing in German artisticcircles as has long been the case elsewhere. In Paris Braque, Derain, Dufy, Matisse,Picasso and Rodin are all enthusiastic boxing fans” (Boddy, 61). Fletchtheim also held“regular soirées where members of the intelligentsia...could mingle with boxers such asHans Breitensträter” (1897-1972), who was charismatic, blonde, beautiful and athletic,and who also played the violin, bred orchids, and collected teddy bears. Also part ofFlechtheim’s circle was Paul Samson-Körner and Max Schmeling. These soirees led tothe publication of the Grossmann portfolio, which included Breitensträter’s shortautobiography.
Boddy, Kasia. Boxing: A Cultural History. London: Reaktion Books, 2008.
Esau, Erica. “‘The Magazine of Enduring Value’: Der Querschnitt (1921-1936) and theWorld of Illustrated Magazines,” The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of ModernistMagazines, vol. III, Europe 1880-1940, Part II: 868-887.
OCLC: GWDNB, S5B, J9U. No copies U.K. or North America. (Inventory #: 1276)