|Horst Janssen born in Hamburg on Nov. 14th, 1929, is regarded
as one of the most exceptional and talented artists and etchers of the
20th century. From 1946 to 1951, he studied at the School of Art
in Hamburg, where at an early stage he developed a liking for
illustrations, woodblock- and linoleum prints as well as drawing.
His monumental woodblock colour prints of the early
1950's saw him develop his own pictorial language in which
large abstract elements contrasted with structures of a
much smaller scale. Towards the end of that decade, he
intensified his interest in etching, a technique which saw
the concentration of outlines move to the forefront of his
work. Outlines and stroke structures became Janssen's arti-
stic "skin", and he used them with devastating effect to
depict what he saw as the typical anatomical and physi-
cal flaws in people. He described this with the phrase
"cripple-like gnomes and randy little Sibylle."
Among his most important works are the self-portraits he started turning out in an almost obsessive manner from the start of the 1960s. In some of these, he portrayed himself in an utterly self- destructive way. Driven by the compulsion that he always needed to draw, Janssen produced one of the most prolific collections of graphic art of this century, work that had its roots in the influences of artists like James Ensor, Paul Klee, Max Klinger, Goya and Piranesi. His numerous illustrations to literary texts and compositions of his own also met with critical acclaim. Horst Janssen died in 1996.