The Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery celebrates the opening of Fritz Eichenberg – Artist of the Book with an opening reception on Thursday, January 16, from 5 to 7 pm in Cohen Hall on the Peabody campus. The exhibit, curated by Joseph S. Mella, gallery director, will remain on view through February 27.
The focus of Fritz Eichenberg – Artist of the Book is a selection of forty illustrations that Eichenberg created for twelve classic works of literature, including wood engravings he made for a 1938 edition of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the first major work of literature he illustrated after immigrating to the United States from Germany. Also featured are illustrations for Resurrection and Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, both by Leo Tolstoy; a two-volume set of Emily and Charlotte Brontë’s works, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre; Tales of Edgar Allen Poe; and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, among others.
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.
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.
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 11 am to 4 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 pm. Free and open to the public, the Fine Arts Gallery is housed in Cohen Memorial Hall, 1220 21st Avenue South, on the western edge of the Peabody College campus. Parking is available in Lot 95 outside Cohen Hall, off 21st Avenue South on the Peabody campus and across from Medical Center East.