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Obituary of the Caricatura Museum on the death of F. W. Bernstein

22.12.2018 | 13:44 Clock | People
Obituary of the Caricatura Museum on the death of F. W. Bernstein

The Caricatura Museum Frankfurt mourns the death of artist and mentor of the Caricatura Museum F.W. Bernstein

The draughtsman, poet and satirist Fritz Weigle, alias F.W. Bernstein, died on 20 December 2018 after a long illness. F.W. Bernstein achieved notoriety for his work for the satirical magazines Pardon and Titanic, for co-founding the New Frankfurt School, and as a professor of caricature and pictorial history in Berlin.

F.W. Bernstein was born Fritz Weigle in Göppingen on March 4, 1938. After graduating from high school in 1957, he studied at the Stuttgart Art Academy, where he met Robert Gernhardt. Later he moved to the Berlin University of the Arts. From there he and Robert Gernhardt made their first contacts with the satirical magazine Pardon, which was founded in 1962. After their final exams in 1964, they became part of the editorial team, which already included Chlodwig Poth, Hans Traxler and F.K. Waechter belonged. At Pardon, F.W. Bernstein, together with Robert Gernhardt and F.K. Waechter responsible for the Pardon supplement "Welt im Spiegel", WimS for short, and here cultivated nonsense in text and image.

The group of these five illustrators and the three authors Pit Knorr, Eckhard Henscheid and Bernd Eilert, some of whom founded the satirical magazine Titanic in 1979, became known as the New Frankfurt School. F.W. Bernstein gave the Neue Frankfurter Schule its motto with the well-known animal two-liner "Die schärfsten Kritiker der Elche/waren früher selber welche!" and inspired Hans Traxler to design the heraldic animal. Oliver Maria Schmitt, writer and former editor-in-chief of Titanic, attests F.W. Bernstein a special position in the "collegium of the New Frankfurt School": "He is not only the only one who has become something decent, his work is by far the most unwieldy and peculiar in the group circle". In addition to his satirical activities, F.W. Bernstein worked as a teacher in the school service. Later he was an academic councillor at the Pädagogische Hochschule Göttingen and lectured as a guest at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst Kassel.

He was always a promoter and mentor of young draughtsmen and women. In 1984 this led to his appointment to the world's only professorship for caricature and pictorial history at the Berlin University of the Arts. From there he worked freelance as a draughtsman, caricaturist and writer for, among others, the definitive satirical magazine Titanic. His ingenious rhymes and drawings show an extraordinary versatility in style and material. "He likes to be carried away by his line, to be carried away by his pen. Comedy and art make themselves independent, without ulterior or even exploitation thoughts, some things remain erratic, cranky, veiled," Oliver Maria Schmitt says about him.

F.W. Bernstein became known to a wide audience through his numerous and memorable lyrical and satirical works. These include, for example, the collaborative work with Robert Gernhardt and F.K. Waechter "Die Wahrheit über Arnold Hau" (1966), "Lehrprobe - Report aus dem Klassenzimmer", published in 1969 under the name Fritz Weigle, as well as "Bernstein's Buch der Zeichnerei - Ein Lehr-, Lust-, Sach- und Fach-Buch sondergleichen" (1989), which is still unique for the genre. Only recently the poetry volume "Frische Gedichte" (2017) was published as a supplement to "Die Gedichte" (2003). Even more extensive than his literary work is the graphic Œuvre F.W. Bernstein, which has been honored in numerous exhibitions. More than 3,000 drawings alone are in the possession of the Caricatura Museum Frankfurt, for whose founding F.W. Bernstein was jointly responsible and which he accompanied with interest until the end. Since its opening in 2008, his drawings have had a permanent place in the museum's permanent exhibition.

In addition, F.W. Bernstein has been honored with numerous prizes: in 2003 with the Göttingen Prize for Satire "Göttinger Elch", named after his famous two-liner, and in the same year, together with his colleagues of the New Frankfurt School, with the prize of the Binding Cultural Foundation. In 2007 he received the "Heinrich-Schickhardt-Preis" of the city of Göppingen, in 2008 the Wilhelm-Busch-Preis as well as the Kasseler Literaturpreis for grotesque humor, and in 2011 the Deutscher Karikaturenpreis for his life's work. On 14 March 2018, he was honoured with the Ludwig-Emil-Grimm-Preis of the city of Hanau, and his last major exhibition to date was also shown there on this occasion.

F.W. Bernstein lived in Berlin with his wife Sabine. He has two children

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