Josef Weisz Biography

Josef Weisz




Painter, printmaker, sculptor, and illustrator Josef Weisz was born in Munich, Germany, on August 27, 1894. He briefly apprenticed as a goldsmith beginning in 1908 before choosing to pursue art, and in 1914 he entered the Staatliche Kunstgewerbeschule (State School of Applied Arts) in Munich, studying under F.H. Ehmcke. He held his first exhibition at the Kunsthaus Brakl in Munich in 1916.

From 1916 to 1918 he performed his conscripted military service in World War I, serving in Russia, France, and Belgium. These experiences would be a source of inspiration for much of his most active creative period, and he become known for some of his harrowing images of war. In 1919 he created the woodcut series Die Apokalypse, following it up with the series Genesis in 1920. In 1921 he took up sculpture; this and woodcut printmaking, with a focus on literary illustration, would become his medium of choice. In 1930 the art periodical Das Zelt would dedicate a volume to Weisz' woodcuts and sculptures for their 7th issue, and in 1935 his woodcut "Pieta" was published in volume 10 of the British Museum Quarterly.

In 1931 he won the Grand Prix and Gold Medal for works at the Paris Exhibition, further establishing his reputation as a sought-after German artist. In 1938 he founded his own press, but military service in World War II interrupted his venture and the artist was sent once more to the front lines. Illness disallowed him to continue past 1943. After the war ended, he took up his press once more. 
Over the course of his career, he would illustrate thrity-five books, including his best known, 100-image illustrated tome, "Flowers of the Alps." He continued to work as a freelance illustrator until his death on July 1, 1969. 

Kunsthaus Brakl, Munich, 1916
First International of Lithography and Wood Engraving, Art Institute of Chiacgo, USA, 1929
Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, Memphis, TN, USA, 1950
Gutenberg Museum, Mainz, 1966
Hunt Botanical Library, Pittsburg, PA, USA, 1968
Staatsbibliothek, Munich, 1969
Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbuttel and Berlin, 1995/'96 (touring retrospective)