Julius Klinger – about whom I am writing a book – had a remarkably prolific career in Austria and Germany during the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. Klinger was trained at the best Austrian art schools, mentored by some of the most famous design trendsetters and tastemakers of the 20th century, and was an integral part of Berlin’s intellectually and artistically inclined intelligentsia. But outside of the small world of poster aficionados and German museum curators, Klinger’s work has largely been overlooked and forgotten.
That’s unfortunate for a variety of reasons: his prodigious poster and trademark work, primarily between 1905-1930, was filled with memorable product posters that combined cutting-edge irony with razor sharp design skills. He worked for some of Germany and Austria’s largest brand names, and managed – for each client – to design logos, packaging, posters, illustrations and private-label projects that resonated with both the client and the consumer. Not content with just one style of design, Klinger’s early work incorporated the lasciviousness of Aubrey Beardsley, while in his later period he was directly influenced by the clean lines and refined design of his colleague Lucien Bernhard.
The book project – which I naively imagined would have been finished long ago – is getting closer to completion. My first draft of the third version (!), is just about done, I’ve been offered an exhibition at a museum when the book is finally ready to launch (now that’s what I call incentive!), and I am beginning to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
I have always been fascinated by talented artists: I grew up in a home where my grandmother (who actually went to the Riemann Schule, the Berlin school where Julius Klinger was a teacher) could sculpt and paint, and my mother could paint, etch, and sketch effortlessly. I’m not skilled in any of the plastic arts, but I can write. I hope that through my words and work, I will be able to introduce Klinger’s work to a new generation of graphic design and poster collectors and connaisseurs … As soon as I finish the book (again!!)….