H. N. Werkman


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Alston W. Purvis

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An extraordinary look at the work of a highly influential avant-garde designer, typographer, and printmaker

Dutch designer and printmaker Hendrik Werkman (1882–1945) is best known for his innovative printing techniques and avant-garde typography. As publisher of De Blauwe Schuitt, a series of underground booklets produced by Jewish dissident poets and writers during the Nazi occupation of Holland, Werkman was imprisoned by German secret police in 1945 and executed without trial just three days before the country’s liberation. This generously illustrated book is the first in English to focus on Werkman’s remarkable graphic work and fascinating life.

Werkman founded his own printmaking shop in 1908. His self-produced magazine The Next Call waspublished in 1923 and included typographical and other printmaking experiments as well as the designer’s own Dadaist poems and texts. Werkman also developed a printmaking process he called “hot printing,” a technique incorporating found materials that added repeated design elements directly onto the paper—all without the use of a printing press. Although much of his work was destroyed at the time of his execution, the remarkable examples that remain tell the story of a maverick designer and typographer whose graphic vision was playful, bold, experimental, and unwaveringly optimistic.

Alston W. Purvis is head of the department of graphic design at Boston University. He is a photographer and graphic designer.

Monographics Series editor, Rick Poynor

“This elegant paperback book . . . is worthy of Werkman. Design has been made out of design. The surprising angles of his lettering and colors look astonishingly fresh. There is an optimism to Werkman’s inventions that belies his life and those terrible times [the Nazi occupation of Holland].”—Svetlana Alpers, The Key Reporter

Included in Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles list, January 2006
ISBN: 9780300102901
Publication Date: September 10, 2004
112 pages, 7 1/2 x 9
132 color illus.