Pioneers at the printing presses

Artists such as Ferdinand Hodler and Otto Dix went in and out of the "Graphische Anstalt" J. E. Wolfensberger in Zurich and had their works printed there. The Landesmuseum pays tribute to the pioneer of art prints and its founder with the exhibition "Gut zum Druck".

Johann Edwin Wolfensberger (1873 - 1944) was neither conceited nor afraid of contact. In the early days of his company, which was founded in 1911 "Graphic Institute" he solicited customers in an enterprising manner. Wolfensberger, who because of his corpulence was also called "big wolf" was called, soon had great success with artists and advertisers. Many pictures and posters that appeared in the "Graphic Institute" are now part of the Swiss cultural heritage. Examples include Ferdinand Hodler's "William Tell" or the Matterhorn poster by the painter Emil Cardinaux.

Refuge for "degenerate" artists

The exhibition at the National Museum in Zurich, which was presented to the media on Wednesday, also highlights the company's commitment to Swiss art. During the war, the "Wolfsberg" - as the headquarters in Zurich-Enge was self-confidently called by its patron - became the artistic home of "degenerate artists" like Otto Dix, who was not allowed to exhibit in Germany.

New standards also in the graphic arts industry

Wolfensberger was committed to the uniform poster size of 89.5 by 128 centimeters and optimistically described it as "World format". The dimensions are still standard today, however, the term made it "World format" never crossed the Swiss border. In the rest of the world, this format is now called F4.

Only 30 lithographic printing plants left worldwide

Beni and Thomi Wolfensberger, the fourth generation to run the print shop, are somewhat more modest. They are almost a little embarrassed by the exhibition in the National Museum. They are "Printer only"says Thomi Wolfensberger. The two brothers have since split the company in two: The offset print shop is now located in Birmensdorf just outside Zurich. The lithographic studio, which is mainly used by artists, is located in Zurich's Kreis vier district. There are only about 30 such companies left in the world. The lithography studio still uses a machine from 1905 - not out of nostalgia, but because there is no better one available today.

In the Werbewoche of 25 October 2013: Interview with curator Felix Graf.

More articles on the topic