Fritz Eichenberg — Artist of the Book

Fritz Eichenberg, American, 1901-1990
Proposal Under the Trees from Jane Eyre
Chapter 23 by Charlotte Brontë
From Fritz Eichenberg, Artist of the Book: 248 Selected Wood Engravings, 1938–1972, 1979
Wood engraving
7-5/6" x 5"
Gift of the Fritz Eichenberg Trust
Art © The Fritz Eichenberg Trust/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

(January 16 – February 27, 2014)

Fritz Eichenberg’s life was shaped by his firsthand experience of World War I in Cologne, Germany, and his immigration to the United States in 1933 as Germany was preparing for another war. Eichenberg was a highly sensitive person with a quick eye, a sharp wit, a passionate love of literature, and an equally intense commitment to the truth. He combined these qualities to produce several careers’ worth of work as a political cartoonist, book illustrator, religious radical (he was a major contributor to the newspaper of the Catholic Worker, a left-leaning movement founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Marin in 1933), and distinguished educator. His images, published in newspapers, magazines, portfolios, and more than one hundred books, have reached countless numbers of people. He was, in the best sense of the word, a popular artist, one who communicated to a wide audience his unique vision while maintaining the highest technical and ethical standards.

The focus of Fritz Eichenberg—Artist of the Book will be portfolio illustrations Eichenberg created for twelve classic works of literature. A set of original publications will be featured along with a self-portrait of Eichenberg with many of the authors illustrated in this exhibition, thanks to a generous loan from a local collector. Additionally, this loan will include Eichenberg’s preparatory drawing, final print, and original woodblock for the cover of The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of Dorothy Day, along with the book itself, allowing visitors a glimpse into the artist’s process. The gallery will also present selections from Eichenberg’s 1972 work In Praise of Folly (Encomium Moriae) from its permanent collection.

Fritz Eichenberg—Artist of the Book is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and curated by Joseph S. Mella, director.