Friday, January 29, 2010

Equality (coda)

Fritz Eichenberg, Christ of the Breadline, wood engraving

A reader of mine, Mark Richard Lane, sent me a reminder about Fritz Eichenberg.

I remember Eichenberg's work from my boyhood. I loved his illustrations to Edgar Allen Poe's stories.

Eichenberg was quite a fascinating character. He was born and raised in a Jewish family in Cologne. He became sympathetic to left wing and pacifist causes during the First World War. He became a prolific printmaker, his work strongly influenced by Kathe Kollwitz and Ludwig Meidner. The Nazi election victory in 1932 forced him to leave Germany. He ended up in New York where he worked for the WPA, taught at Pratt, and at The New School.

Eichenberg made a long and winding religious pilgrimage during his life. His family was secular and assimilated. In his youth, he was fascinated with Taoism. He later embraced Zen Buddhism after the death of his wife in 1937. In 1940, he became a Quaker.

It was through his activism in Quaker causes for the poor that he met Dorothy Day and became a lifelong friend of hers. He frequently contributed illustrations for The Catholic Worker, of which the one illustrated above became the most famous and celebrated.

No comments: