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
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
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
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
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