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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Otto Eckmann

Jugend (Youth) was the main literary proponent in southern Germany
for Jugendstil. Otto Eckmann often did covers much like this
 one for the magazine.
Jugendstil was usually
char-acterized by flat color
and design. However, This
Eckmann cover departs
from that.
Art styles come and go. We don't notice it now as we did then (a hundred years ago) since now the Postmodern period (which is not a style, but an art era) eschews such stylistic evolution in favor of contemporary eclecticism. A hundred years ago, the florid sensuality of the Art Nouveau style came to an abrupt end with the advent and armistice of WW I. Shortly thereafter, it was replaced by the sleek, mod-ernism of Art Deco. And though there have been brief (very brief) revivals of Art Nouveau over the intervening years, I can't say that any-one today, artists or otherwise, really misses it or longs for its return. Art Nouveau was the French (and dominant) designation but various other art centers in Europe referred to the style as Secessionsstil (Austria), Modernismo (Span-ish), Secese (Czech), Skønvirke (Denmark), Ref-ormstil (Hungary), Szecesszió, Stile Flor-eale, or Stile Liberty (Italy, depending upon the city), Jugendstil (Norway), Secesja (Poland), Модерн (Modern in Russian), Jugend (Swe-den), and Jugendstil (Germany). Otto Eck-mann, being a German artist, preferred the latter.

Jugendstil does not lend itself well to portraiture. These are more on the order of German Expressionism. The yellow one is by Julius Klinger, while the one on the right is by Lovis Corinth.
Otto Eckmann was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1865. He was a painter, graphic designer, typographer, and crafts designer, also the leading proponent of German Jugendstil. After studying at the Hamburg Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts), he moved to Munich, where he studied painting at the Art Academy. Until about 1894, Eckmann worked as a painter. In the years after that he devoted himself exclusively to graphic design and crafts, especially embroidery designs. During this time he the first Jugendstil artist to be invited to Darmstadt. There, seven years before the artists' colony was founded on the Mathildenhöhe, in 1893, the Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig commissioned Eckmann to design his study in a new palace he was building on Wilhelminenplatz. At the same time, Eckmann also produced illustrations for the journals Pan and Jugend. Sometime later, he began to teach at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Berlin as a professor of applied art.

Eckmann covers and illustrations for Jugend.
From 1900 to 1902, Eckmann did graphic work for the Teaching Institute of Royal Arts and Crafts Museum. During this time, he designed the fonts Eckmann in 1900 and Fette Eckmann in 1902 (below), which are probably the most common Jugendstil fonts still in use today. Eckmann died of the tuberculosis that had plagued him for years in June of 1902, at the age of thirty-seven.

Fonts designed or influenced by Otto Eckmann.

In addition to typography Eckmann's crafts included ceramics, primarily vases (left), and embroidery design. As for illustration, one of his most characteristic subjects was that of swans, as seen in one of his woodcuts titled Two Swans (below), from 1902. It appears as if they're having a race.

Vase, 1900, Otto Eckmann
Two Swans, woodcut, 1902, Otto Eckmann
Jugendstil porcelain fish vase, Otto Eckmann.
Not quite the ugliest thing I've ever seen, but close. 

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