The exhibition on the history of popular graphic news media presents three business models for the production of illustrated broadsheets that changed very little from the 16th century to the early 20th century. The hunger for images with sensational news, for the latest political satire and for informative and humorous reportage was always great.
Deutsches Historisches Museum
Unter den Linden 210117Berlin
From today’s point of view there are striking parallels with current tabloid journalism, with the present-day pictorial battle of ideologies in the media and with the more demanding and entertaining illustrations in the feuilleton.
The great variety of sensational news stories – natural disasters and human calamities or blood and thunder in war and revolution – have always been aimed at the general public. Production costs for eye-catching news were kept at a minimum by the publishers. The colouring of woodcuts and lithographs was often done with stencils by children working at home.
The illustrated broadsheets and handbills with political satire on such topics as the “right” faith or against censorship and oppression, by contrast, were often made by notable artists. The exhibition will present numerous examples from the likes of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Kazimir Malevich and Pablo Picasso.
Those who enjoyed entertaining picture stories and humorous illustrations about contemporary history were often the same people who bought similarly instructive children’s illustrated stories for their offspring. If the sheets contained captions in several different languages, international distribution was assured. In this way the pictorial stories of Wilhelm Busch that were originally published as “Munich broadsheets” found their way to America. The cartoonist Rudolph Dirks, who emigrated to the USA from Germany, developed the first comic strip from these stories under the title “The Katzenjammer Kids”; it was published as a Sunday supplement to the New York Journal.
Some 180 originals from the large collection of illustrated broadsheets, flyers, cover-page caricatures and comic strips of the Deutsches Historisches Museum can be seen in the exhibition, complemented by complete sequences of pictorial series at media stations. A richly illustrated catalogue will also be published on the occasion of the exhibition.