Emil Zbinden (1908 – 1991) was a Swiss artist. From 1928-31 he lived in Berlin and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Leipzig.
The foreseeable seizure of power by the National Socialists and the resulting political climate forced him to return to Bern. Starting in 1936, he created over 900 illustrations and typographies for the sixteen volumes of Jeremias Gotthelf's work published by Büchergilde Gutenberg, a book community in the tradition of the German labour movement. These delicate images from the Emmental peasant life and landscape promoted Zbinden's reputation as an outstanding wood engraver. They form the backbone of his work to this day.
Parallel to the work commissioned by Büchergilde Gutenberg, Zbinden – a trained typesetter – created a diverse work on paper as a freelance artist. In addition to prints, this primarily comprises drawings, but also watercolours and tempera paintings.
Since 2012 Zbinden's graphic prints archive has been kept by the Prints and Drawings Departement of the Swiss National Library. You can browse through the online catalogue of Emil Zbinden's prints here.
”I'm not pessimistic. I still believe in the will of people to create a more equitable social order. This is a long and difficult process with many setbacks. But there are also many signs of hope. Man rises again and again from all defeats. No power in the world, no violence, nothing has made him accept oppression as something irreversible. Again and again, he stands up and fights for justice in this world. And that will remain so as long as there are people.”