September 20 - November 18, 2000
Fritz Kredel Centennial Exhibition
Curated by Judith Kredel Brown & Mathilde Kredel Brown
The Grolier Club opens its 117th season of free public exhibitions with a retrospective exhibition of the work of Fritz Kredel, on the occasion of the eminent illustrator's centennial. Unlike previous Kredel exhibitions, this one will display some works never shown before, drawn from the private collections of Kredel's daughter, Judith Kredel Brown, and his granddaughter, Mathilde Kredel Brown, who are the co-curators.
A member of the Grolier Club until his death in 1973, Fritz Kredel was a prolific and versatile artist of the book as well as works in a larger format. His rich legacy of pen and ink drawings, watercolors and woodcuts was produced on two continents and spanned a period of more than fifty years.
Active in Germany before coming to America, Kredel's career began in the 1920s, when the world-famous graphic artist and designer Rudolf Koch invited Kredel to join his studio. There Kredel perfected the art of making woodcuts which combined unusually high technical virtuosity and rich, minute detail, with a lyrical and expressive linear quality rarely achieved in hard pear wood.
Early in his career, Kredel received the coveted Gold Medal for Book Illustration at the 1937 Paris World Exposition. Shortly after coming to America, he illustrated Eleanor Roosevelt's book, Christmas, written for children, and he was commissioned to create a woodcut of the Presidential seal for the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy.
For publishers such as the Limited Editions Club, Germany's Insel Verlag, for numerous private presses, as well as for trade book publishers such as Hallmark, Grosset & Dunlap, Random House and The Reader's Digest, Kredel illustrated fairy tales, children's books, religious works, cookbooks, fiction and non-fiction, drama and poetry. Some books are still in print today. Always meticulously researched, his illustrations are easily identified by Kredel's very personal style and its inimitable verve and charm. The humor in many of his illustrations is contagious. Bursting with vitality, Kredel's work is a joy to behold and refreshingly accessible.
A catalog of the retrospective will be published and contains the first full bibliography of Kredel's work, a large number of reproductions and several essays, including one by the German type designer, Hermann Zapf. The catalog will be available in paper or hard cover.
The Grolier Club exhibition is part of a year-long celebration of Fritz Kredel's birth. Exhibitions are also being held at Yale University, where the archive of Kredel's work is housed in the Sterling Library's Arts of the Book Collection, and at the Odenwald Museum in Michelstadt, Germany, Kredel's birth place.