Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Carl Ernst Hinkefuss papers
Date (inclusive): 1903-1970 (bulk 1912-1933)
Hinkefuss, Carl Ernst
40.7 linear feet
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
The papers of Carl Ernst Hinkefuss document the career of this graphic designer, as well as broader developments in German
commercial graphic design in the early decades of the twentieth century. The archive is comprised primarily of original trademark
and logo designs and related materials, some created independently by Hinkefuss, and some in collaboration with his business
partner, Wilhelm Deffke, under the aegis of their company, Wilhelmwerk. Other items in the archive relate to the journal
Qualität, the clearest expression of Hinkefuss's attempt to integrate the worlds of commerce and design, and to his children's
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Carl Ernst Hinkefuss (1881-1970) trained as a painter, graphic artist, and architect at the Königliche Kunstschule and the
Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin at the turn of the century. While still a student, Hinkefuss became interested in the idea of
artists collaborating with the business world, and after graduation he became a commercial graphic designer. From 1905 to
early 1910, he worked in the advertising and publicity departments of several firms in Berlin and Dessau, and then later in
1910 set out as an independent publicist in Berlin.
The turning point in Hinkefuss's career came in 1912. While working for Otto Elsner Verlag, a printing company in Berlin,
he met Wilhelm Deffke. The two artists collaborated on several advertising projects for Elsner, with Hinkefuss supplying the
advertising concept and Deffke giving the concept artistic form. The collaboration of Hinkefuss and Deffke was so successful
that in late 1915 they established their own company, Wilhelmwerk. The large, full service agency the partners had envisioned
was, however, not to be. The war and the subsequent economic depression had their effect, and the firm survived primarily
on the design of trademarks and logos. In early 1920, Deffke left the partnership to pursue other opportunities and Wilhelmwerk
At this point in his career, working independently once more, Hinkefuss established a new company in Berlin, Internatio GmbH
Internationale Propaganda für Qualitätserzeugnisse. Again Hinkefuss concentrated chiefly on the creation of trademarks and
logos. Yet, it is also through Internatio that he began to publish the richly illustrated design journal,
Qualität (1920-1933) and the children's book,
Das Vogelparadies (1929). During this period, Hinkefuss's work appears to be allied to that of the Bauhaus and he may have hoped to establish
a formal relationship, but apart from publishing essays in
Qualität by Walter Gropius, László Moholy-Nagy, and Hannes Meyer, he never worked in any official capacity for the Bauhaus.
An ardent opponent of the National Socialists, Hinkefuss discontinued
Qualität and closed Internatio in 1933 lest he be forced to produce propaganda for them. For the next twelve years, he supported himself
as a small farmer, growing fruit and vegetables in his backyard, supplemented by the occassional land sale. Living in East
Berlin after the war, Hinkefuss tried to re-establish his business and develop a new customer base within the DDR, but he
was not successful. Commercial advertising was not in great demand and Hinkefuss's established graphic style, made up of simple
geometric forms, was very different from the favored social-realist style of the time. By 1951 his career had taken a new
route. Having joined the Verband Bildender Künstler Deutschlands, he began painting landscapes, still-lifes and portraits,
as well as teaching painting to the public. His later graphic design work was confined to a small number of political works
and exhibition posters.
Further documentation relating to the careers of Hinkefuss and Wilhelm Deffke can be found in the repository's research file.
Open for use by qualified researchers.
Carl Ernst Hinkefuss papers, 1903-1970, bulk 1912-1933, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2010.M.63
Acquired in 2010.
Emmabeth Nanol processed and cataloged the collection under the supervision of Ann Harrison in 2010-2011.
Several publications were transferred to the library's Special Collections and can be found in the library catalog with a
Provenance search on "Carl Ernst Hinkefuss Collection."
Scope and Content of Collection
The modern, reductive trademark and logo emerged in Germany in the early years of the twentieth century. Working both independently
and with his business partner Wilhelm Deffke in the firm Wilhelmwerk, Carl Ernst Hinkefuss was among the early commercial
graphic designers in the field of advertising, who specialized in trademark and logo design. Linked philosophically and aesthetically
to the ideas of the German Werkbund and subsequently the Bauhaus, Hinkefuss developed a very simple style that sought to integrate
the worlds of commerce and design. Hinkefuss and Deffke did not draw or paint their designs, but created images in the form
of figurative, abstract, or typological cut-outs in colored paper mounted on a background sheet. These images were so visually
powerful that they could either be reduced to a small logo or enlarged to a full-page brochure. Using these defining images,
Hinkefuss created what we now call "brand identities," designing not only the stationery for businesses, but also the invoices,
envelopes, packaging, and advertising.
Materials relating to Hinkefuss's professional career comprise Series I of the archive. Examples of his graphic design work
form the majority of the material and include assembled sample portfolios, hundreds of loose original designs, and letterpress
print blocks. Aside from his commercial brand identity work, Hinkefuss also produced two significant publications for the
world of graphic arts. He published and edited
Qualität, a journal promoting industrial and graphic design, which became more and more modern, especially after Hinkefuss began working
with a printing house in Dessau, shortly after the Bauhaus had moved to that city as well.
Das Vogelparadies (1929), a modern children’s book showing birds rendered in simple but bright, colorful forms on a black background, is often
incorrectly associated with the Bauhaus. The archive includes a photocopy of the complete run of
Qualität, supplementing the repository's more limited original copies, as well as ephemera and proofs relating to this and other publications
to which Hinkefuss contributed. Of particular interest are two wooden Bauhaus-style toys, reproductions of the pelican from
Mein Vogelparadies, which served as exemplars and promotional items for the book. A small selection of professional correspondence, photographs
of Hinkefuss's studio and displays of his work, and miscellaneous materials round out the series.
A limited quantity of photographs and other personal material forms Series II. Of particular interest in this series is the
documentation of Hinkefuss's trip to the United States in 1913. In part a vacation, the trip's professional research component
is shown by the extensive series of postcards documenting the facilities of the Curtis Publishing Company of Philadelphia.
Organized in two series:
Series I: Professional papers, 1912-1969, undated
Series II: Personal papers, 1903-1970, undated
Subjects - Topics
Art and industry--Germany--20th century
Commercial art--Germany--20th century
Graphic arts--Germany--20th century
Logos (Symbols)--Germany--20th century
Genres and Forms of Material
Photographic prints--20th century
Deffke, Wilhelm H., (Wilhelm Heinrich), 1887-1950