Georg Büchner – Revolutionary with Quill and Scalpel

Die schönsten deutschen Bücher 2014
The Most Beautiful German Books 2014
Shortlist

The book was created to accompany the jubilee exhibition for the German author Georg Büchner at Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt. Part of our concept was to portray him as still alive, despite the fact, that his birth took place 200 years ago: Büchner as eternally rebellious, as forever young.

Büchner writes in his play Danton’s Death in 1835: “What is it in us that whores, lies, steals, and murders?” This irrepressible thirst for knowledge, this impetus to turn everything upside down pushing forward to the very heart of it all is corresponded by the book’s basic principle of “revolution”. Taking the word literally as something rotating around its axis, the texts of the book lead right hand side in one way, while the images are revolved, and the other way round.

Intertitles with Büchner quotes at the beginning of each chapter function as a kind of switch, where you can possibly change the book’s direction. The quotes we designed individually, using the scalpel-like forms of an alphabet we finally named Barbe Bleue. This is also a reference to the book’s leading color, blue, which, since it’s reinterpretation during the French revolution, is also seen as the color of liberté (freedom).

The visual dramaturgy and the composition of image details as well as the nesting of texts operate in analogy to Büchner’s use of cut-up methods, long before the term was coined. And, of course, there are typographical transcriptions of original Büchner manuscripts (thanks to the University of Marburg), the Lenz tunnel pages visualising all the voices in the mad poet’s head, and, last but not least, most of the miraculous exhibition pieces from Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt’s jubilee show to experience Büchner’s world by Büchner’s senses.

“... in Darmstadt a significant anniversary exhibition opens, accompanied by an artistical catalog of 600 pages; both are displaying Büchner for all senses: seeing, hearing, feeling.”
DIE ZEIT, Elisabeth von Thadden,
October 10, 2013

“Accompanying the exhibition the responsible Institute Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt published a gorgeous catalog, a stroke of genius on its own . . . Büchner's life and work are narrated artfully, elegant and vividly on the basis of architectural models, manuscripts, anatomical paintings, preparations, physical and optical instruments, as well as movie stills, ennobling the 612 pages strong volume Georg Büchner—Revolutionary With Pen and Scalpel (Hatje Cantz Verlag, 65 Euros) to one of the most beautiful art books of the year, also providing plenty of reading material, with numerous texts of literary prominent figures such as Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Wilhelm Grimm, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Durs Grünbein, Robert Musil, Elfriede Jelinek and Elias Canetti.”
Offenbach-Post, Christian Riethmüller,
December 21, 2013

Many thanks to Rainer Metzger (artmagazine.cc), who named Georg Büchner as one of his five books of the year 2013.












Catalog
Hardcover
240 mm × 305 mm
612 pages
Barbe Bleue (custom type design), Bulldog, Bulldog Hunter
German
Published by Hatje Cantz












Hardcover (front) 
Müdigkeit spürte er keine,
nur war es ihm manchmal
unangenehm, daß er nicht
auf dem Kopf gehn konnte.

Georg Büchner, Lenz, 1835
Portrait:
August Hoffmann
Junger Mann mit Notenblatt
(Georg Büchner)
1833

pp. 308 
Our typographic interpretation
of the exhibition site-specific
sound intallation (Lenz)

pp. 504/505 
Michel Henning
Die Guillotinen von Paris
1791–1795
and
Denis Diderot /
 Jean-Baptiste Le Rond d’Alembert
Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire
raisonné des sciences,
des arts et des métiers
1763

pp. 506/507
Johann Konrad Friederich
Die Geschichte Unserer Zeit
(Detail)
1826–1830

pp. 492/493
Thomas Michael Mayer
Arresthaus, Darmstadt
1970

pp. 270/271
Chapter 5
Danton’s Tod:
DER EINZELNE
NUR SCHAUM
AUF DER WELLE

Chapter 6
Lenz:
ALS JAGE
DER WAHNSINN
AUF ROSSEN
HINTER IHM


pp. 265/264
Moritz Ignaz Weber
Menschlicher Schädel
In: Anatomischer Atlas
des menschlichen Körpers
1831

pp. 40/41
Introduction
Skelett mit gekrümmtem Rücken,
ausgeprägte Kyphose
der Brustwirbelsäule,
Morbus Bechterew
and
Unbekannter Künstler
Gekreuzigter Jesus als
anatomisches Wachsmodell
1760–1780

p. 1
Georg Büchner
Haarlocke
1837












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