Object Image

The Mad II (Die Irren II) (headpiece, page 26) from Umbra vitae (Shadow of Life)

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner illustrated the 1924 reprint of Umbra Vitae (Shadow of life), a posthumous collection of Georg Heym's Expressionist poems that was first published in 1912, the year of the poet's premature death, at age twenty-four, by drowning. Kirchner, who owned a copy of the earlier edition and knew the poems very well, designed all of the elements himself, including the 46 woodcuts throughout the book; the color woodcuts on the cover, the frontispiece, and the front and back endpapers; and the bold grotesque typography (fette Groteskletter). The illustrations, printed in a blacklike brown, serve as visual correlatives to Heym's hauntingly poetic images of "life's shadow." The dark sid...

Woodcut from an illustrated book of fifty woodcuts
2.5 x 7.5cm
Image and text © MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2019

Where you'll find this

The Museum of Modern Art
Permanent collection