Marcus Behmer

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Marcus Behmer
Born(1879-10-01)October 1, 1879
DiedSeptember 12, 1958(1958-09-12) (aged 78)

Marcus Michael Douglas Behmer (1 October 1879 in Weimar – 12 September 1958 in Berlin) was a German writer and book illustrator, graphic designer and painter.


Early life and family[edit]

Marcus Behmer was a son of the painter Hermann Behmer (born November 13, 1831 in Merzien ; died in July 1915 in Weimar ) and a grandson of Merziener Oberamt's Friedrich Behmer and his wife Elise Behmer, youngest daughter of the poet Philippine Engelhard. His uncle Rudolf Behmer (born November 13, 1831 in Merzien; February 12, 1902 in Berlin ) - known as a breeder of Merino sheep - was the twin brother of his father. Their sister Louise, the aunt of Marcus was with Heinrich von Nathusius married (1824-1890). His brother Joachim Behmer was also active as an artist.


Marcus Behmer's grave in Friedhof Heerstraße, Berlin-Westend

His artistic beginnings were, as he writes in a letter, in 1896, with his first major success with the illustrations for Wilde's Salome for Insel-Verlag, in 1903. The early works show the influence of Illustration Art Aubrey Beardsley. In the past reception it is this initial dependence in his Salome 's undoing, since many art historians call Behmer afterwards, but the later the inaccurate, as Beardsley epigones. It is true that he soon broke away from this influence and in parallel with the rise of Expressionism and the new impulses of the Wiener Werkstätte developed only its inherent design.

On 1 October 1903, Behmer entered military service, was appointed a corporal on 10 June 1904 and promoted on 22 September 1907 to sergeant. From 1914 he participated in WWI (in Flanders and in Poland). In the summer of 1917 he fell seriously ill "after an operation in the field" and spent six weeks in the military hospital at Jarny. During his time in the army, he produced many so-called "comrades' portraits" , usually miniatures, although finely crafted profile views of young soldiers.

From 1902 Behmer did illustrations for books, designed initials and writings and was responsible for carefully planned book facilities. He worked for the Cranach Press of Count Harry Kessler, and did illustrations in numerous articles for the monthly magazine " Die Insel" (The Island ) for Insel-Verlag . For this publisher he also designed an internationally especially perceived work Illustration consequence to Philipp Otto Runge : The Fisherman un Fru syner . Behmer also worked for other publishers, such as the Paul Cassirer house, where one of his major works was the 40 etchings produced in 1912 for an edition of Voltaire's Zadig. Like many book illustrators, Behmer ran into financial difficulties in the 1920s, but stayed committed to the (in his words) "small format" , as did others such as Alfred Kubin (with whom Behmer was compared in later years) and as opposed to a more competitive career as a gallery artist.

Behmer was close friends with, among others, the family of the writer Ernst Hardt, with the painter Alexander Olbricht and also with the sculptor and painter Dorothea Werner (born Leiding) and her husband.

Starting in 1903, he was a member of the first homosexual organization in the world in Berlin[citation needed]. Until now, it was little known that Behmer was sentenced in April 1937 by a court in Konstanz to two years in prison and was arrested in Freiburg and other places in southern Germany. At times he was given the opportunity to work as an artist in prison. The works produced in this period are mostly calligraphic designed tablets with Greek text (prayers and Bible quotes), and drawings full of bitterness and irony.

From 1943 Behmer lived at the family home of Donata Helmrich, the daughter of Ernst Hardt, in Berlin-Charlottenburg. After he was bombed out in Berlin in early 1944, he went late that autumn to Groẞ Nuhnen, the estate of the Werner family in Frankfurt / Oder. The rest of his life was spent in West Berlin. Dorothea Werner took care of him from 1958 until his death.

Renowned museums and collections such as the graphic collection of the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, the Klingspor Museum for calligraphy and typography in Offenbach or the collection Sternweiler in Berlin today house works by Marcus Behmer. A critical appraisal of his work is only now being undertaken and his art-historical importance realized.



  • Numerous usually etched bookplate.
  • Numerous sent to friends, mostly etchings, New Year's wishes with both metaphorical and political motives (as arise between 1931-1934 critical comments to seize power by the National Socialists).
  • Numerous erotic works, often etchings, with so clear as imaginative gay symbolism.

Book illustrations[edit]

  • Annemarie von Nathusius: Free words . Berlin, Eckstein, (1902).
  • Oscar Wilde: Salome . Leipzig, island, 1903rd
  • H. de Balzac: The girl with the golden eyes . Dt. Transfer of Ernst Hardt. Leipzig, Insel Verlag 1904th
  • Ernst Hardt: Ninon of Lenclos . Drama in one act. Insel Verlag, Leipzig, 1905th
  • Ernst Hardt: Tantris the Fool . Drama in 5 acts. Breitkopf & Härtel for the Insel Verlag, Leipzig, 1907th
  • Voltaire Zadig . IX. Work of Pan-Press, published by Paul Cassirer, Berlin, 1912th
  • Brothers Grimm: Six Fairy Tales . Brandus, Berlin 1918th
  • Ecclesiastes or Ecclesiastes . Holten, Berlin, the 1920s.
  • The Fisherman un Fru syner . Leipzig, Insel Verlag, Leipzig 1920 ( Insel-Bücherei Nr. 315), also hand set of Behmer.
  • Euphorion Publisher: Publishing report on the founding year . With a title etching by Marcus Behmer and an original lithograph by Hermann Struck. Berlin the 1920s.
  • The prophet Jonah according to Luther . Insel Verlag, Leipzig, 1920–30, reprinted 1983: Insel-Bücherei Nr 1018/2..
  • Johannes Secundus (di JN Everaerts): Basia . Officina Serpentis, Berlin, 1921st
  • Enno Littmann : From eastern flea . Fact and Fiction about the flea in Hebrews, Syrians, Arabs, Abyssinians and Turks. With 13 orig etchings. Island, Leipzig 1925


  • Five letters to Effi Briest-binding. (Berlin-Schöneberg, Labisch, undated (1927) -.. Privatdruck in small edition (25 copies)..)
  • Ten silhouettes of Marcus Behmer. As annual gift for the Friends of the National Art Library manufactured by W. Büxenstein. Berlin 1930s.

Musical compositions / songs based on poems by[edit]

  • Eduard Mörike : thinking it 'O soul! (Berlin, Birkholz, 1922; written in 1917 in the field hospital of Jarny ).
  • Paul Verlaine : Le ciel est, le toit Pardessus ... (Berlin, Birkholz, 1925).
  • Emil Kuh : Hirschlein went in Forest walks. (After the children's song set for voice and piano by Marcus Behmer). To '19. ', 22 July 1943. (privately printed for Konstantin Greiff-Helmrich in a very small edition).

Designs for the Reichsdruckerei[edit]

  • Ten-Mark banknote, 1919 (using a paper cutting).
  • Various invitations and program cards.


Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 2009 (1 October), the 130th Birthday - Gallery in the bookseller Marcus Haucke, Berlin.
  • 2008 (July 24 to September 2) - Galerie Buchholz, Berlin.
  • 2008 - "Täfele". Antiquarian & Gallery Marcus Haucke, Berlin.
  • 2000 - Antiquarian & Gallery Marcus Haucke, Berlin.
  • 1979 - City Museum, Weimar
  • 1979 - City Library, East Berlin.
  • 1979 - Klingspor Museum, Offenbach.
  • 1978 - Galerie Werner Kunze, Berlin.
  • 1978 - 1979 - Kunstkreis Novo Industry, Mainz.
  • 1958 - Klingspor Museum, Offenbach.
  • 1958 - 1959 - Formerly State Museums Berlin / Art Library, Berlin
  • 1956 - The Städel, Frankfurt am Main.
  • 1954 - Art of Charlottenburg, Berlin.
  • 1952 - "Working in 50 years," Horst Stobbe Bücherstube, Munich.
  • 1951 - Galerie Springer, Berlin.
  • 1950 - Rosen Gallery, Berlin
  • 1947 - A. Wollbrück & Co. bookstore and Antiquarian Books, Berlin.
  • 1927 - Art Library, Berlin.
  • 1912 - "An exhibition of drawings, etchings and ex libris by Marcus Behmer", Berlin Photographic Company, New York.
  • 1910 - exhibition in the studio of Alexander Olbricht, Weimar.
  • 1904 - "Marcus Behmer, drawings, watercolors, woodcuts," Kunstverein Jena.

Group exhibitions[edit]

  • 1997 - ". Goodbye to Berlin 100 years gay movement" Gay Museum, Berlin
  • 1984 - "Eldorado", Berlin Museum, Berlin
  • 1980 - "The curved horizon - Arts in Berlin from 1945 to 1967", Academy of Arts, Berlin
  • 1929 - "The German illustrated book from 1880 to 1929," Horst Stobbe Bücherstube, Munich.
  • 1909 - "Winter Exhibition of the Secession" (graphics), Akademie der Künste, Berlin.
  • 1905 - "Alexander Olbricht, Marcus Behmer (drawings, etchings, woodcuts)", Kunstverein, Jena.
  • 1903 - Secession, Berlin.
  • 1902 - "Vienna Secession 13th exhibition" Vienna
  • 1900 - "Vienna Secession 8. Exhibition", Vienna


  • German business publisher, AG (ed.): Empire Manual of the German Society, Volume 1, Berlin 1931
  • Birnbaum, Martin, Marcus Behmer. New York 1912th
  • Covers of Marcus Behmer. In: Stammtisch leaves the Maximilian Society, born in 1927, S. 53-87.
  • Vollmer, Künstlerlexikon, Vol. I, p 155f.
  • Roditi, Edouard, Marcus Behmer, a master of Art Nouveau. In: Arts in Society, 7, 1970, pp 268–275.
  • Halbey, Hans Adolf, Marcus Behmer as an illustrator. / Handeinbände of Frieda Thiersch to print the Bremer Presse. Neu-Isenburg, 1970 (with bibliography of works illustrated by Behmer; incomplete).
  • Hans Adolf Halbey and Richard of Sichowsky: Marcus Behmer in his letters as a book designer, illustrator and magazine illustrator. From typography to West-Eastern Divan, the etchings for Ilsebill, the woodcuts to Petronius and the Hebrew Scriptures. Verlag Hans Christian, Hamburg 1974th
  • MARCUS BEHMER. (Catalog of the exhibition and attempt to catalog raisonné ). With texts by Marcus Behmer, Benno Meyer-Wehlack among others Edited by Marcus Haucke. Berlin, Galerie im Antiquariat Haucke, (12 Sept.) 2000 to (14 Febr.) 2001. Gr8 °. With about 95 fig., 80 S. OKtn. u with Fig. bookbinders stamp. Portrait v. MB. - Content: Biography (biographical sketch), texts by Marcus Behmer (Alexander Olbricht, Island Baedecker, poems etc.), Blake, Goethe, Haucke, Graf Kessler, Benno Meyer-Wehlack. With a list of headlines (A1-A56 = 56 entries), the illustrated books and original graphic contributions in journals and books (C1-88 = 88 entries), the folders (D89-D100 = 12 entries), the New Year's wishes (E181-E217 = 37 items), numerous drawings, erotic or orgiastic work "(in overview), so-called. Book dirt, choice of bookplate and include a list of exhibitions and a bibliography. In a small port there are still small biographical sketches for Hermann Behmer (father), Alexander Olbricht and Benno Meyer-Wehlack (Friends). Haucke is the owner of the resale rights for Marcus Behmer and edited the catalog raisonné of printmaking and book arts.


External links[edit]