From the category archives:

Recent Acquisitions

John Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld) was an important and ground-breaking artist in Germany, known as the inventor of photomontage. He anglicized his name in protest against the anti-British sentiments prevalent in Germany after the First World War. He was a member of Berlin Club Dada, later assisting with the Erste International Dada-Messe exhibition of 1920. His first photomontages were created for publications associated with the Dada movement as well as book jackets for the publishing house run by his brother, Malik-Verlag.

 

Heartfield is called by some the creator of photomontage, and is best known for having helped to pioneer the use of art as a political weapon, primarily through his famous anti-Nazi and anti-fascist photomontages. These collages were not simple combinations of pictures and text, but appropriated and reused photographs to achieve powerful political effects. He chose recognizable photographs of politicians or events from mainstream news sources, and then took apart and rearranged the images to change their meaning and provide a commentary on the current state of the country. His aim was to expose the dangers and abuses of power within the Nazi regime by highlighting their incompetence, greed, and hypocrisy. His most impactful images played with scale and stark juxtaposition to get their point across. His work shadowed and reflected the chaos and agitation present in Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s, as it shifted towards social and political upheaval.

 

Heartfield’s images illustrating these tensions were so powerful that they helped to transform the photomontage into a powerful tool of mass communication. Some of his most impactful works were even mass-produced and distributed as posters in the streets of Berlin between 1932 and the Nazi rise to power in 1933, when the SS broke into Heartfield’s apartment and he was forced to flee Germany. Many of his best-known images were created for and published in the pages of AIZ – Die Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung, an illustrated left-wing worker’s journal published in Berlin, beginning in 1930.

 

Most of his sharpest satire was reserved for Adolf Hitler, parodying his poses, gestures, and symbols associated with the dictator. One such example is this image titled “Adolf, the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk”. Heartfield has overlaid a well-known photograph of the Führer with a chest x-ray and replaced his heart with a swastika. The x-ray reveals coins collecting in his stomach. Heartfield’s image references a cartoon by Honoré Daumier, and alludes to the large contributions that industrialists were making to the Nazi Party in contradiction to its supposed roots in socialism. This image made such an impact that it was reproduced as a political poster in 1932.

 

Another example is “Der Sinn des Hitlergrusses”. Heartfield exaggerates the difference in size between Hitler and the man behind him, handing him money, to comment again on Hitler’s relationship to Germany’s wealthy industrialists, a puppet accepting financial influence and assistance.

 

“The Meaning of Geneva” depicts a white dove, the symbol of peace, impaled on a bayonet, a symbol of modern warfare. In the background is the League of Nations palace, where the Geneva disarmament conference took place in November 1932. The text accompanying the image reads, “Where Capital Lives, There Can Be No Peace!”

 

 

(Heartfield Photomontages) – AIZ. Die Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung. Year X, No. 1 (n.d., 1931) through Year XII, No. 9 (n.d., 1933). 112 total issues of the illustrated left-wing German worker’s journal, published in Berlin from 1924 to March of 1933, and afterward in Prague and then Paris until 1938, anti-Fascist and pro-Communist in stance, published by Communist political activist Willi Münzenberg and best-known for its propagandistic photomontages by John Heartfield, of which 26 are included in this collection, and including coverage of current events, women’s issues, and gender relations, original fiction and poetry, and above all photography, primarily submitted by amateur photographers. Profusely illustrated throughout. Some very minor defects or small repairs, overall excellent condition. Folio. Original illustrated wrpps. Berlin (Neuer Deutscher Verlag) 1931-1933. (48927)

Before AIZ began, a monthly magazine called Sowjet Russland im Bild (Soviet Russia in Pictures) was published by Internationale Arbeiter-Hilfe (Workers International Relief), a group led by Willi Münzenberg. The magazine contained reports about the recently created Russian Soviet state and the IAH, and in 1922 began reporting on the German proletariat. As the paper expanded coverage and attracted prominent contributors such as George Grosz, Käthe Kollwitz, Maxim Gorki, and George Bernard Shaw, it grew rapidly and reappeared on November 30, 1924 with the new name of AIZ and a new format. Over time it became the most widely read socialist pictorial newspaper in Germany.

The issues included in this collection are: 1931 (Year X): Nos. 1-52; 1932 (Year XI): Nos. 1-52 (lacking no. 49 which was confiscated by the censorship authorities); and 1933 (Year XII): Nos. 1-9 (9 was the final issue published in Berlin after Hitler seized power).

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This month marks the 50th anniversary of the massive strikes and demonstrations held in Paris and across France in May 1968. To this day, “May 68” is considered to be a cultural, social, and moral turning point in the history of France, and the events of that time had a resounding impact which was felt for decades afterwards.

Students in France were critical of the country’s outdated university system and dissatisfied with the lack of employment opportunities for recent graduates. Sporadic demonstrations for education reform began earlier in 1968, but on May 3rd a massive protest at the Sorbonne in Paris had to be broken up by the police, resulting in hundreds of arrests and dozens of injuries.

Following the protest, the Sorbonne was closed and classes cancelled, and students took to the streets surrounding the university (in Paris’s Latin Quarter) to continue their demonstrations. On May 6th, the Union National des Étudiants de France (UNEF) organized a march of more than 20,000 students, teachers, and their supporters. Protesters created barricades against the police charging with their batons, paving stones were hurled, and tear gas administered. According to estimates, over 500 protesters were arrested and 350 protesters and police injured.

On the night of May 10th, students set up barricades in the Latin Quarter and rioted, ending with close to 400 people in the hospital, more than half of which were police officers. Students called for radical changes to take place, and union leaders started planning strikes in support. In an attempt to defuse the crisis, Prime Minister Pompidou announced that the Sorbonne would reopen on May 13th.

Instead, on the 13th, students occupied the Sorbonne, turning it into a commune. Students and workers protested together in the streets, organized by the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) and the Fource Ouvriére (CGT-FO), with estimates counting over a million marchers that day. Over the next several days things escalated dramatically. Strikes spread to other universities in France as well as labor unions, and by the end of the month a massive widespread strike had extended to factories and industries across France, shutting down newspaper distribution, air transport, and two major railroads. Millions of workers were on strike, up to 22% of the population of France at the time, and the country seemed to be on the brink of revolution.

On the night of May 24th, the worst fighting occurred. Students temporarily seized the Paris Stock Exchange, raised a communist flag, and tried to set it on fire. One policeman died during the riots. Over the next few days, Prime Minister Pompidou attempted to negotiate with union leaders but failed to end the strike. The most radical students called for revolution with a meeting of the UNEF on May 27th which gathered 30,000 to 50,000 people at Stade Sebastien Charlety. They wanted the government overthrown, but their radical demands lost the support of the union leaders.

On May 30th, President de Gaulle announced that he was dissolving the National Assembly and would be holding elections. His appeal for a return to law and order gained the support of the middle class, and the labor strikes were abandoned. Student protests continued until June 12, when protests were banned. Two days later, the students were evicted from the Sorbonne. Elections were held over two rounds at the end of June, and the Gaullists won a commanding majority. Concessions were made to the protesters, including higher wages and improved working conditions for laborers, and an education reform bill was passed to help modernize the French university system.

F.A. Bernett currently has in its inventory two items dating from this period of upheaval and important change in Paris.

(Paris ’68)Collection of Leaflets Related to the 1968 Unrest in Paris. Group of approximately 200 original leaflets regarding the events of May 1968 in Paris, all originating from the “Press Office” located at the Sorbonne, dated from May and June 1968, most issued by the Comite d’Action Ouvriers Etudiants, primarily typed documents in French, some printed, including notices to their comrades and fellow students, memos, declarations, calls to action, notes on press conferences, and others, a few with cartoons or other drawings, some with ink or marker notations, overall excellent. Various sizes, mostly 4to. Sheets loose as issued, housed in an archival box. Paris 1968. (48892)

Action. Nos. 1 through 47 (7 May 1968- 3 June 1969) (all published). A complete run of 49 issues (including 2 unnumbered issues between nos. 38 and 39) of this panoramic documentation of the 1968 uprisings (issues ranging from 2 to 8 pp.), which covered events in the tumultuous year both in France and internationally with emphasis on happenings in Paris, including a wide range of articles, essays, reviews, etc., accompanied by a plethora of illustrations, including drawings, cartoons, caricatures, photographs, posters, etc. Nos. 4-20 and 23-41 large folio; nos. 1-3, 21-22, and 42-47 folio. Wrpps., all covers illustrated. Paris 1968-1969. (47080)

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The history of tarot is long, and probably surprising to some. The earliest known surviving full deck dates to the early 15th century in Italy. Painted by Bonifacio Bembo for the Duke of Milan, it is known as the Visconti-Sforza deck, after the Duke’s family name. In Renaissance Europe, these decks of cards, then known as trionfi, tarocchi, and tarock, were used to play games such as tarocchini in Italy and jeu de tarot in France, trick-taking card games in the same vein as Whist or bridge. In Italy, the aristocracy would also engage in a whimsical game known as “tarocchi appropriati”, in which players were dealt cards from the deck and used the imagery and themes to compose poetry. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the cards began to be used as we think of them today, for divination and cartomancy.

A tarot deck is comprised of 78 cards total. Similar to standard playing cards, there is a set of four suits which vary by region, but often are represented by wands/batons, cups, coins/pentacles, and swords. Each suit is comprised of 14 cards, ten cards numbered one or ace to ten, and four face cards: King, Queen, Knight, and Jack or Knave. These 56 cards are known as the minor arcana. The other 22 cards are known as the major arcana and consist of a group of 21 Trump cards and a single card known as the Fool. Although there are wide varieties in tarot decks, stylistically and regionally, some of the more archetypal arcana cards include the Tower, the Devil, the Magician, Death, the Wheel of Fortune, the Chariot, Justice/Judgment, the Lovers, the Moon, the Sun, and the World. Some tarot decks contain only these 22 major arcana cards, eliminating the four suits.

F.A. Bernett Books currently has in its inventory a collection of over 200 assorted tarot decks, comprising an impressive overview of the history and study of tarot. Most of the decks date to the second half of the 20th century and are primarily European in origin. This collection includes reproductions of important historical decks, decks showcasing the work of modern artists and more whimsical decks centered around fantastical themes. Highlighted below are several of the numerous interesting and eye-catching decks from this collection.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reproduction of the Tarocco di Marsiglia (Svizzera 1804). No. 555 of a limited edition of 2000. Milan (Edizioni Il Meneghello/Cavallini & Co.) n.d.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Il Tarocco di Amerigo Folchi. Artwork by Amerigo Folchi. No. 2528 of a limited edition of 3000. Bologna (Italcards) 1991.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Tarot de la Réa. Artwork by Alain Bocher. St-Brieuc, Franc (Les Presses Bretonnes) 1982.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarocco Fantastico. Artwork by Franco Bruna. No. 160 of a limited edition of 1200, with signed and hand-numbered title card. Turin (Viassone) 1982.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zigeuner Tarot. Artwork by Walter Wegmüller. Basel (Sphinx Verlag/AGMüller) 1982.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Tarot Belline. No. 4366. Paris (J.M. Simon/Grimaud) 1966.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XXII Arcani – I Tarocchi di Andrea Picini. Artwork by Andrea Picini. No. 123 of a limited edition of 1000, with signed and hand-numbered title card. N.p. (Edizioni Luca) 1977.

 

 

Extensive Collection of Tarot Cards. A large collection of over 200 decks of tarot cards, most dating to the second half of the 20th century with a few earlier and later outlying examples, from publishers in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States, including reproductions of antique tarot decks, modern decks showcasing the work of particular artists, and decks providing a more whimsical approach to the arcana. Some decks unopened, a few decks incomplete, the rest all in excellent condition, with little to no signs of wear. Various sizes. Various cities. 1930s-2000s. Together with an assortment of over 100 catalogues and books related to the tarot, some pertaining to specific decks. (48661)

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Historical and Documentary Photography in 19th and Early 20th Century America

May 31, 2017

The late 19th and early 20th centuries were periods of major change and important historical events throughout the United States, as well as key developments in photography technology. Life could be documented in a way that was never possible before, both physically and economically. Photography allowed for more precise archiving than either lithography or engraving. […]

A Collection of Leftist Political Posters, 1960-2010

April 15, 2016

Cuba, OSPAAAL (Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa, and Latin America), 1971 and 1972  Extensive and Culturally Significant Archive of Approximately 500 Political Posters. An important, unique, and carefully curated collection of political posters, dated from approximately the 1960s to the 2000s, from a wide variety of leftist and militant groups in […]

The École de Montmartre in 1920’s Paris

August 17, 2015

              Paris in the late 19th and early 20th century, especially during the periods known as the Belle Époque and les Années Folles, was a hotbed of intellectual and artistic life. During the former, Montmartre was abuzz with cafés, cabarets, and artists’ studios, with a large number of painters […]

Anni di piombo. The Lead Years, 1968-1982.

Thumbnail image for Anni di piombo. The Lead Years, 1968-1982. August 11, 2014

“Anni di piombo” (“The Lead Years”) has little nostalgic resonance in the US. Unlike “Mai ‘68”, which instantly evokes exhilarating scenes of French student occupations, demonstrations, police brutality, wildcat strikes, riots, and barricades. (And perhaps some fervent threesomes if you made it through Bertolucci’s The Dreamers.) While Mai ‘68 appears retrospectively as both the unfulfilled […]

Under the Matzos Tree.

May 9, 2014

52 Examples of Jewish-American Sheet Music from the Early 20th Century. A collection of English-language sheet music, ca. 4-8 pp. each, in orig. color illus. wrrps., most published in New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, or Los Angeles, ca. 1900-1920. (47699) “Under the Matzo Tree: A Ghetto Love Song,” “Yiddle on your Fiddle Play Some Rag […]

“The Bankers Shall not Make the Peace” Labor Day Sketch Book 1947

Thumbnail image for “The Bankers Shall not Make the Peace”  <i>Labor Day Sketch Book 1947</i> June 10, 2013

Sally, Ted (drawings). Labor Day Sketch Book 1947. Los Angeles CIO Council. Unpaginated (ca. 32 pp.) presentation of proposed designs, drawn by Sally, for floats, banners, costumes, and other accoutrements for a union-oriented progressive Labor Day parade. Oblong large 4to. Orig. printed wrpps. Los Angeles (CIO Council) 1947. (47538) In the spring of 1947, The […]

The Bois de Boulogne and Sem au Bois: Belle Epoque Paris and the Pageantry of the Passing Spectacle

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1012/4596067321_1c5b7c68e9_t.jpg May 11, 2010

Sem (pseudonym for Georges Goursat).  Sem au Bois (title stamped in gilt on front cover).  N.p. (Paris?) ca. 1908.   Signed and dated 29/4/08 in pencil on the last plate; 6 other plates with the artist’s printed insignia.  [45958] A jewel in the crown of Baron Haussmann’s modernized Paris, the Bois de Boulogne opened as a […]