WILHELM MARTIN BUSCH, 1908 -1987, is one of the most important german illustrators of the second half of the 20th century, with a total of over 300 illustrated books. his father, ARNOLD BUSCH, who taught at the breslau art academy, was one of the most famous portrait artists of his time. the father was teaching the son, who decided early on to become a drawing artist. from the very beginning almost perfect already he started to study in 1929 at the berlin academy of art. he had a chance to learn from some well known teachers, and became through working in woodcut interested in book-illustration. in the berlin of the early thirties busch became fast a wanted illustrator for newspapers like ‘gartenlaube’, and started very early to illustrate the classics of literature. during WW2 he was recruited to the ‘psychological war’ troops, dealing with propaganda prints. after the war he moved to hamburg and started to work for ROWOHLT-publishing. his first major assignment were the illustrations for TUCHOLSKY’S – SCHLOSS GRIPSHOLM. all the major writers of german, french and russian literature followed. busch illustrated EMILE ZOLA, CASANOVA’S MEMOIRS, GOETHE, HAUFF’S FAIRYTALES and more. I have about 40 of his illustrated books and – they are MASTERPIECES. already before WW2 busch had started to teach part-time, from 1954 on he became a fulltime teacher at the hamburg textile/fashion school ( later academy for design ), in 1984 he was appointed professor by the hamburg senate. he told his students – you have to SEE, use your eyes, look around yourself, the hand will do the work automatically. or he was more precise while teaching life drawing – stay 90% of the time with your eyes on the model and 10% on the paper! he was teaching until he died in 1987.
for me he is THE ILLUSTRATOR par excellence! he did not need any reference, did not use any photograph nor models. he had images, worlds in his imagination and he was able to draw them on paper in his unique style. just paper, ink and nibs. a true MASTER OF THE ARTS!
there will be a lot of posts with his amazing drawings, from all over the forties, fifties and sixties. very interesting to watch how he changed his drawing style, from pretty realistic to impulsive, the idea more important than the detail.
the illustrations are from the book IM WEITEN REVIER, published by bertelsmann in the fifties.
© wilhelm m.busch / bertelsmann