Readers may remember that back in November, 2010, there was a post on Walther Klemm's Vogelbuch, or Book of birds. This was in fact a portfolio of six colour woodcuts in an edition of only forty, published in Germany in 1912. At that point Klemm was still a member, along with his friend Carl Thiemann, of the artists' colony at Dachau near Munich.
The impression I get is that complete sets are rare and predictably some of them do come up as single prints without any reference (so far as I know) to the original project. But now I find that he seems to have begun the project as early as 1909 because I have recently come across two further colour woodcuts in exactly the same format but much closer to the Vienna Secession style he was using during his stay at Liboc near Prague. Ducks diving, above, is very similar to his print of underwater ducks in the Vogelbuch, likewise a study in monochrome but considerably more subdued. Personally I think the 1909 print is alot more attractive. I don't think he was every quite so devil-may-care decorative as this. His ability to flip styles is one of the things I admire most about Klemm even if he was soon to change to styles I find less congenial. The subtle integration of greys and blues is really so masterly, it may as well be an object lesson.
Not surprisingly the swan doesn't have a corollary in the second Vogelbuch. It's considerably less successful. I don't know why the project appears to have been abandonned. I can hardly believe it was because no one liked what he had done. I am very smitten with his virtuoso ducks. It is almost post-modern in its playful awareness of form and pattern and appearances. Here is the artist who not only studied under Kolo Moser but studied history of art as well. And here is the accomplished awareness that led him only four years later (at the age of only thirty) to his professorship at Weimar, the image an apt metaphor for Klemm's own performance: agile, delving, disappearing, deft.
And if you click on to gerrie-thefriendlyghost.blogspot.com/2011/10/emil-pottner-feathers.html you will see that, just like Klemm and Thiemman, Gerrie and I are laying in the same barn.