"The cinema is cruel like a miracle." -Frank O'Hara

Josef Fenneker, The Tragedy of a Great Man

Within a decade after he settled in Berlin, in 1918, Josef Fenneker designed more than 300 movie posters. He primarily worked for two movie houses, the Mamorhaus and the Mozartsaal, but he also designed images for the large German movie producer UFA. From the beginning of his career, Fenneker developed his own personal style, which drew largely on German Expressionism combined with a flair for decadence.

He primarily depicted elongated and distorted figures emerging from dark backgrounds, and punctuated them with unusual, hand-drawn typography. This poster is for the silent film The Tragedy of a Great Man, the story of Rembrandt van Rijn. The atmospheric image, with its murky background offset by the wide, adoring eyes of Saskia (Rembrandt’s wife) is a fascinating confluence of Old Master and German Expressionism.

Category: art + video, design, film reviews

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