Dirk Zimmer

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Goslar, near Harz Mountains, Zimmer's birthplace
Poughkeepsie, New York, where he died in urban hospital

Dirk Zimmer (2 October 1943 – 26 September 2008), called Dizi, was a German artist and an illustrator and writer of American children's books.[1][2]


Second row, far left side: Dirk Zimmer (Dizi), the artist as a young man; exhibition poster by Werner Nöfer, 1967
Lower Manhattan area, where Zimmer lived at 29 Johnstreet
John Street
Kingston's Rondout neighborhood

Zimmer was born in Goslar in Lower Saxony. He grew up mostly in Hamburg, where he attended the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg from 1963 to 1968.

The German period[edit]

In 1965, he, with fellow artists Francesco Mariotti, Herman Prigann [de], Werner Nöfer [de], and Dieter Glasmacher [de], cofounded Cruizin 4 [de], and art organization best known for two events: the opening of the exhibition Cruizin 4 in the Gallery Mensch at Fischmarkt Hamburg-Altona[3] and a performance at Cosinus,[4] a pub in the university district. The Happening 1. World Record in Permanent Painting took place under medical, and specifically psychiatric care, too, by doctors of the University Hospital Eppendorf. (The planned on about 80-hour performance was canceled after 36 hours on medical advice because of collapse of one of the participants).[5][6]

Under the moniker 'Dizi', Zimmer had a brief career as a painter during the German avant-garde movement and then turned to filmmaking, which he eventually dropped in the late 1970s to work as an illustrator for such American publications as Crawdaddy, The New York Times, and The New-York Magazine. Over the years, both his paintings and illustrations were shown in private galleries in New York, Germany, Switzerland, and France.

The American period[edit]

His work as a children's book illustrator began after moving permanently to New York City in 1977. He also continued to exhibit his artwork and to be a presence in the New York art scene. He found a flat in John Street, right under the roof, for a lengthy period of time. The only media contact to his homeland was through the German Boa Vista magazine, in which he first published vignettes,[7] than later his written and illustrated (from 1977, New York) short-story comic with the cryptically and untranslatable German title Die mysteriöse Schratzmichlöse.[8] From 1978 to 2004 Zimmer published more than two and a half dozen kid's books.[1] Zimmer moved to Barrytown, NY in the early 1980s, and later lived in the Rondout area of Kingston. He was a contributor and collaborator at the northern Dutchess quarterly AboutTown. He later moved to Tivoli, NY. In 1990, he was one of a small group of illustrators—including Natalie Babbitt, Maurice Sendak, Marc Simont and Barbara Cooney—whose work was featured in The Big Book for Peace (Dutton, 1990), an anthology of 34 artists and writers.[9]

Car accident and death[edit]

In Tivoli, on a walk to the river on the afternoon of September 21, 2008, Zimmer was struck by a car. He died five days later on September 26 from his wounds at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He is survived by two sisters who live in Germany. The sequel of the book Egon (published 1980), on which he was working at that time, was left unfinished. Egon, Zimmer's adventurous, furry alter ego, leaves the following note at the end of the book: "I am having a good time. I will be home some day but not until the show ends. Maybe soon."[9]


Zimmer's offbeat, sometimes grotesque, but always gentle humor made him one of the most sought-after illustrators for "scary" picture books, two of which were selected as American Library Association Notable Book lists for children's books. The Trick-Or-Treat Trap—the only book that he has written and illustrated by himself, got the most resonance and response in criticism. So The New York Times praised the humor of this work with the adjective "tongue-in-cheek": "His pen has bite as he pictures a wonderfully wicked assortment of ornery little beings."


Books in cooperation[edit]

In German[edit]

In English[edit]

Books by himself[edit]

Awards, honours[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Dirk Zimmer". goodreads.com.
  2. ^ "About Dirk Zimmer". jacketflap.com.
  3. ^ Cf. Gottfried Sello: Die Künstler kamen im Kolossalauto...sie nennen sich Syndikat für Kunstbetrieb in: Hamburger Abendblatt 30. März 1967.
  4. ^ Cf. Natias Neutert: Wo er hintrat, wuchs wieder Gras (where he walked, grass grew again) in: Humus. Hommage à Helmut Salzinger. Ed. by Klaus Modick, Mo Salzinger und Michael Kellner. Kellner Verlag, Hamburg 1996, p. 98. ISBN 3-89630-101-2
  5. ^ Cf. Wolfgang Feucht: Mal-Schlacht um Weltrekord unter ärztlicher Aufsicht in: Bremer Nachrichten, 10. November 1967.
  6. ^ Cf. Anke Grundmann: Weltmeister im Dauermalen in: Die Welt, 06. November 1967.
  7. ^ Cf. Boa Vista 5. Zeitschrift für Neue Literatur. Ed. by Daniel Dubbe/Manfred Henning/Natias Neutert/Peter Waldheim, Hamburg 1977, pp. 1, 96.
  8. ^ Cf. Boa Vista 6. Zeitschrift für Neue Literatur. Ed. by Natias Neutert/Peter Waldheim/Manfred Henning, Hamburg 1978, pp. 49–55.
  9. ^ a b "Children's Book Illustrator Dirk Zimmer Dies at 64". School Library Journal. 3 October 2008. Retrieved 2017-06-01.

External links[edit]