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Sander Jungbauern 1914
August Sander: Jung farmers1914
From the book:
August Sander, Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts
Jeff Wall - The Thinker
 Jeff Wall: The Thinker, 1966
From the book:
Jeff Wall in München

Schirmer/Mosel Verlag was founded on 1 April 1974 by Lothar Schirmer, a newly qualified publishing manager, and Erik Mosel, a successful copywriter from Munich. The publishing house initially dealt with the compilation and sales of limited-edition portfolios with original photographs by August Sander and Heinrich Zille, the prototypes of which were presented at Art Basel in 1974 and 1975.

The publishing house began producing books in 1975. Two titles appeared and immediately caused a stir: August Sander – Rheinlandschaften (“Rhine Landscapes”) was seen as a manifesto for the art of “reading and treating photography like poetry”, according to the writer Jürgen Becker. With its combination of art and photographic history and Berlin urban history, Heinrich Zille – Photographien Berlin 1890-1910 (“Photography of Berlin 1890-1910”) caused a furore on the book market, evolved into a bestseller, and became Schirmer/Mosel’s de facto founding book.

In the years that followed, Schirmer/Mosel concentrated initially on art and photography from the surrounding area. Alongside the most beautiful book on Beuys, the book about his “Coyote” action in 1976, a monograph was published on Munich-based photographer Herbert List (1976). Another monograph was produced on the court photographer of King Ludwig II, Joseph Albert (1977), a Bavarian in the very best tradition, as was, in a similar combination of art and craftsmanship, the first book by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Fachwerkhäuser des Siegener Industriegebietes (Framework Houses of the Siegen Industrial Region) (1977).

By 1978 Schirmer/Mosel was so well respected and financially sound that Helmut Newton approached the publishing house with regard to entrusting it with his books, many of which are available to the present day. The first of a total of 17 Newton publications at Schirmer/Mosel was Sleepless Nights, which appeared in 1978.

Helmut Newton, the Berlin emigrant with Jewish roots, marked the start of a series of books by persecuted German photographers who had been forced to emigrate. Erich Salomon (1978, 1980, 1986), Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (1978), Wols (1978), Raoul Hausmann (1979), Felix H. Man (1983), Gisèle Freund (1985), and Horst P. Horst (1991) followed, as did Leo Rosenthal (2011) and, most recently, Hermann Landshoff (2013).

In parallel with a series of books on nineteenth-century architectural photography of German cities – Frankfurt, Augsburg, Düsseldorf, Munich, Hanover and Berlin – the company began its expansion into the world, to the masters of French, British and American twentieth-century photography.

Interesting dual strategies emerged through the close links between photography, fine art (Man Ray), and fashion (Yves Saint Laurent).

The small book Hanna Schygulla in den Filmen von Rainer Werner Fassbinder (“Hanna Schygulla in the Films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder”) in 1981 introduced film as an art form into the publishing house’s programme. Hanna Schygulla launched our film and diva series of books about stars and directors, from Marilyn Monroe (1982) to Ingrid Bergman (2013), and music stars like Glenn Gould, Maria Callas, Jim Morrison or Madonna. The first high point of this combination of culture, celebrity, glamour, beauty and intelligence was Isabella Rossellini’s charming autobiography Some of Me, the bestseller of 1997.

Alongside all this, we had the presence of mind to record the creative revolution in contemporary photography that took place in the 1980s. It was Schirmer/Mosel who published the very first work on Cindy Sherman in 1982; Robert Mapplethorpe joined us in 1983, and the first book on Jeff Wall appeared in 1986. All three artists have remained loyal to the publishing house to this day and vice versa.

In connection with this, the large Bernd and Hilla Becher series is particularly worthy of mention, having grown to 22 titles, of which 13 are still available. With all these books, we have trodden new ground, so that “photography as an art form matters as never before” (Michael Fried). The Bechers and their students, including Struth, Ruff, Gursky, Höfer, Berges, Nieweg, and Rosswog, presented in exemplary fashion in the volume Die Düsseldorfer Photoschule (The Düsseldorf School of Photography), still represent the domestic foundations of Schirmer/Mosel’s international competence.

At the same time, fine art has been continuously cultivated. The editions on the work of Joseph Beuys and Cy Twombly were already targeted when the company was founded. In Germany, it was Schirmer/Mosel who popularised the great, long-overlooked representatives of the twentieth century’s realist painting tradition, Edward Hopper, Frida Kahlo, and Balthus. To these were added key works on Marcel Duchamp and the sensational book on the drawings of Antonin Artaud, written by French philosopher Jacques Derrida on the company’s behalf (1986). Another highlight of the programme is the Leonardo da Vinci edition, edited by Marianne Schneider and developed over a period of years.

In 1998, following the success of Isabella Rossellini’s book, we opened a gallery – the Schirmer/Mosel Showroom – at the Hofgarten, the loveliest place in Munich. Alongside regular exhibitions with images from Schirmer/Mosel contributors, the showroom also stocks the entire range of available Schirmer/Mosel publications. Since its opening, the gallery has been developed into a Munich cultural institution. It was in the Schirmer/Mosel Showroom that Cy Twombly presented his photographic works to the public for the first time, before commissioning us to take them out into the world in the form of original prints and books.

Schirmer/Mosel Verlag is proudly looking back on the production of 1,500 art and photographic titles
(bibliography of books published since 1974, arranged by author, year of publication, and subject area). In the past forty years it has made a crucial contribution to the dissemination of art and photography. 316 titles are currently available.

The 2014 jubilee programme – the first part of which has already been announced, is well worth
taking a look at.

Munich, March 2014
Lothar Schirmer

 

 

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(c) Schirmer/Mosel Publishers Munich. All titles, prices, get-ups and pub dates are subject to change.