iiarl 0tratíl tye book artíot 188 By Rudolf Linke sensuality, which we find typically Austrian: the lightness and ease, the grace, an honest aversión to the speculative and the daring. It seems that the designatory power comes straight frorn the inner visión to the hand without passing through the supervising and often dissecting and dismembering functions of the brains. This is by no means to pretend, that his work and the sphere of his activity be only full of sun and joyhe equally reiishes in demoniac fancy, in spooky mystery as well as in the scurrilously grotesque. Although he owes his high rank amongst the contemporaneous artists almost exclu* sively to his graphic works, it would be erroneous to assume that these works enti* rely fill his life. He is rather active as a por; traitist; from his journeys, taking himevery year into some other part of the world, he returns home with large folders filled with sketches, studies and watercolour designs. Here he works really "free" and indepen* dant from any thought of mercantile ex* ploitation, disengaged from all material purpose. The fertility of his work in book art is clearly evident: this art too needs im< pressions and suggestions from outside, ever new views of nature and of the life of mam kind, impressions and suggestions that urge to design and to shape. Also the illustrator Stratil continúes in his preference given to portrait art, to the joy of reproducing the characteristic traits of man's counte* nance, to the notion about the magic unity of human body, spirit and soul. If we could view all the excellently designed heads, which we owe to this pencil, we would not only be enriched by an event perceived with our éyes, but also by an event impres* sive to our soul. It is an ever special joy toStratil to design rnen and upon viewing the pages drawn by him in the smoker's anthology "Pegasus in tobáceo clouds" (Pegasus in Tabakswolken, published by Karl W.Hiersemann, Leipzig ¡934), every design reveáis his delight in the art of sharp characterization and in the clear and stylish discernment of his wood* cuts, whether he is comparing the different temperaments of smokers, or showing an Esquimau smoking, or the popular ship s second playing on the accordion. Remembering that only a few years ago there was kind of an superstition in vogue according to which the serious impression Renouncing the claim of completeness the author limits his work to explain the rea* sons, how Stratil within a comparatively short time has advanced to a rather repre* sentative position and rank amongst the book artists of the present day. There are two reasons. The first is an ever astounding capacity to assimilate and to feel his way, a variability corresponding easily to the most hetereogenous themes and an utmost fertile fancy able to transíate into pictorial design every action or sentiment shaped into words by the poet. An extremely for* túnate artistic temperament assists this gift, whilst at the same time a strict discipline is perceivable which allows for a sensible and rational exploitation. There we touch al* ready the second reason. As every true artist, Stratil is well aware, what he owes to this creative gifts, but he does not rely on the inspiration to lead him as by divine gui* dance along the right path, instead he con* quers his field of action by diligent and hard work. This refers to the spiritual as much as to the technical side of his acti* vityConsidering that Stratil's decisive years of development in his art vvere those first years after the war, when, breaking away from substance, impulse was solely appre* ciated, whilst the solid artisan's craft, the correctness of design was counted nil, fur* Holzstich zuWittkop, Die Todesfracht der Sudja*Sar¡. (Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag, Leipzig) thermore considering how man gifted ar< tists are still to*day sufíering from the mis* guidance of these deviations taught and practised during their first years of deve* lopment of which they vainly strive to come free, one must indeed realise that Stratil did not find his way to mastership just by haphazard, but because he saw his way ahead clearly and consciously. Karl Stratil is a Sudete*German. In his art there seems to víbrate something of the warm

Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik de | 1938 | | page 38