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Emil Zbinden, 1. Selbstbildnis, 1926, Holzschnitt

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.

In 2008-2009 Museum of Fine Arts Bern (Switzerland) and Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig (Germany) presented the artist's first comprehensive retrospective.

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.

Further biographical information: SIKART Lexicon on art in Switzerland and Wikipedia.

Detailed biography:

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