Alastair (Baron Hans Henning Voigt)
Hans Henning Otto Harry Baron von Voigt (20 October 1887 – 30 October 1969), best known by his nickname Alastair, was a German artist, composer, dancer, mime, poet, singer and translator.
Mysterious, flamboyant, enigmatic and attractive to many people, Baron Hans Henning Voight was born of German nobility in Karlsruhe.:5 In his youth he joined the circus and learned mime. Shortly after leaving school he studied philosophy at Marburg University where he met the writer Boris Pasternak. He was self-taught as an artist, and he was also a proficient dancer and pianist.
He died in Munich in 1969.
His drawings, which are often decadent in spirit and have the look of Art Deco, are influenced somewhat by the drawings of the English artist Aubrey Beardsley, who illustrated works by Oscar Wilde, as Alastair would later do. His ‘serpentine line’ often depicts characters whose outlines are lightly drawn with the main areas filled in with ‘broken dotted lines’.:6 His drawings were in black and white ink, sometimes with one colour added. Alastair's illustrations show a strong influence from the Decadent movement in art and poetry that had begun decades earlier, with the "perverse and sinister" a recurring theme. Intricate decorative elements and fine detail are apparent in his works.
Alastair’s fame spread in 1920 with the publication of Wilde's The Sphinx, which contained ten full-page illustrations by him, ‘printed in black and turquoise’.:12 Many of his drawings were inspired by the poems of Wilde, and in 1922 Alastair would illustrate a book of Wilde’s play Salome.:13
Other books containing Alastair's illustrations include:
- The Blind Bow-Boy (1923) by Carl Van Vechten,
- Fifty Drawings by Alastair (1925)
- Red Skeletons by Harry Crosby (1928) (published by the Black Sun Press) 
- "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe (1928 edition, published by the Black Sun Press):19
- Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos (1929)
- Manon Lescaut Translated From The French Of Abbe Prevost By D. C. Moylan With Eleven Illustrations By Alastair And An Introduction By Arthur Symons (1931) (Privately Printed For Rarity Press, New York)
In The Blind Bow-Boy Alastair depicted the ‘androgynous male’.
During the 1930s, he stopped drawing, only to resume in 1964.:pp. 24–29
- Hans-Gert Roloff: Die Deutsche Literatur: Die Deutsche literatur von 1890 bis 1990. P. Lang 2003, p. 528
- Arwas, Victor (1979). Alastair: Illustrator of Decadence. London: Thames and Hudson.
- Souter, Nick and Tessa (2012). The Illustration Handbook: A guide to the world's greatest illustrators. Oceana. p. 101. ISBN 9781845734732.