Monday, July 23, 2012

Art Mirrored Life in 1920s and 1930s Berlin - Reinhard Hoffmüller Framed Travel Poster

 Reinhard Hoffmüller Framed Travel Poster

Art Mirrored Life in 1920s and 1930s Berlin

I have always been fascinated with life, art and sociology of the late 1800s through the 1900s.  The advances in science and impact of the industrial revolution on man, our environment, and society becomes a circular whirl wind of progress(?) and change which shaped who we are today.  When shopping for something different to offer in my Etsy shop, I often come across something that so captures my fancy I allow myself the luxury of being enveloped in research.  When it pricks at a wonderful or fun memory all the better!

Such is the case with my limited edition Reinhard Hoffmüller travel poster.  When I first saw today's subject I fell in love.  If I could own, if only for a while, something from a time period I had only read about or seen in books, what a thrill!  I had to have the 1920s Reinhard Hoffmüller travel poster for my shop!

While you may think it looks charming with its dancing girl graphic it has a deeper history, it is rooted in an era on which my one of my favorite movies is based.  The movie?  Cabaret!  Which takes place in 1931 Berlin, staring Liza Minnelli, Michael York and Joel Grey.  It was an amazingly accurate description of life in 1920s and 1930s prewar Berlin.  Choreographed and Directed by Bob Fosse, Cabaret, the movie and cast together won 8 Academy Awards.  Sweeping the 1973 Oscars, even though it did not win Best Picture, which was claimed by The Godfather; Bob Fosse won Best Director over Francis Ford Coppola and took just about every other major award.  What wasn't there to love?  Period costumes and amazing dance numbers choreographed by Bob Fosse; resulting in a movie which captured the mindset of the early 1970s and mirrored the free living life style of the times.

Source Wikipedia - Used under Fair Use Doctrine.

Cabaret Academy Awards
  • Best Director (Bob Fosse)
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role (Liza Minnelli)
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Joel Grey)
  • Best Cinematography (Geoffrey Unsworth)
  • Best Film Editing (David Bretherton)
  • Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score (Ralph Burns)
  • Best Art Direction (Rolf Zehetbauer, Hans Jürgen Kiebach, Herbert Strabel)
  • Best Sound (Robert Knudson, David Hildyard)

It is important to note in the late 1890's through the 1940's travel was becoming more popular as were new forms of communications and the advent of advertising. Using a combination of large text and enticing graphics these posters were displayed in train stations and in kiosks all over Europe to lure travelers to a destination.

Reinhard Hoffmüller Original Limited Edition Lithograph Art Poster
Vintage Reinhard Hoffmuller Original Limited Edition Lithograph Art Poster - 1920 Click to See Listing

A rough translation: Intimates Locally of the City Berlin - Meet the Wife at the prestigious Barbetrieb to dine and dance. Dancing Tips with Mocha (caffè latte) and Danish at 4pm. At 8pm Dinner and Cabaret Music - Bar - Free Admission - Good Cuisine - Wear your Best - Demonstrate Your Dancing Ability - Performers Names

Cosmopolitan Berlin, as described in the 1930s book "Rues & visages de Berlin" by Jean Giraudoux (1882-1944) with artwork from George Grosz, was vivacious with crowds everywhere, in the streets, in the parks, shopping, dining in the restaurants and cabarets.  The Friedrichstraße area was located in the center of Berlin and in particular was a popular cultural and shopping area.  The movie Cabaret along with Giraudoux's book and George Grosz's artwork gives the researcher an accurate description and feel of what life must have been like.  If I had one word to describe it would be Berlin during this time it would be "Ausschweifung" or debauchery.

It was during this period, the above poster was produced.  Travel posters in general, the art category which Hoffmüller's posters are included, were produced in limited runs (in this case 500) as advertisements for ocean liners, automobiles, travel destinations and restaurants. Displayed posters usually did not survive; unless saved by a collector, artist, client or museum so the actual number of surviving posters is unknown.

George Grosz, Im Café
I'm Café by George Grosz

Prior to WWII, the burgeoning middle class had increasing discretionary income and life in Berlin was rollicking! It was a time when transvestites where out of the closet and walking the streets and Berlin nightlife was energetic. Not just businesses used these innovative and creative posters as means of advertising to draw in customers, they were also used to advertise events such as horseraces and balls.  "Nightclub V" by George Gros pictured to the left, recently sold for over $50,000.00 at auction.

It was during this time period that German artist Reinhard Hoffmüller, also a fine artist, was happily creating his advertising posters for popular cabarets, restaurants, nightclubs and events in the Friedrichstraße district of Berlin, one of the centers of Berlin's crazy nightlife.  Using a combination of large text and enticing graphics these posters were displayed in kiosks in the city and in train stations to lure travelers.  His posters were also sold at the Gallery at Gendarmenmarkt - MohrenstraBe 30, 1080 Berlin-Mitte which I surmise is where this poster originated.   I can imagine George Grosz and Chas Laborde seeing Reinhard Hoffmüller's posters about town; they probably ran in the same circles, were acquaintances within the art community, if not friends.

"Rues & visages de Berlin"
As another example of art mirroring life of the time I offer Chas Laborde's (1886-1941) impression of Berlin society pictured to the left which is one of the illustrations from Giraudoux's book "Rues & visages de Berlin". If you look closely at the flat-chested figure in pink, he is wearing a dress and a top hat!

One description of Hoffmüller’s posters referenced a quote from a local poet, K. Mergerle von Muhlfeld, who summed the period up as: ‘Thick air, gossip with booze, kids begging, freshly-painted gigolos, Night clubs! That’s Berlin’

"Hoffmüller's posters have been described on the ArtFact web site as "time capsules capturing the height of the glittering, somewhat decadent lifestyle that became associated with the Weimar period." Frou Frou (pronounced Froo Froo as in fancy) is no exception!  They are certainly fun!

Reinhard  Hoffmüller Lithograph Poster