About Johannes Boehland

Johannes Boehland, 1903–1964, graphic designer, calligraphy teacher at Städtische Kunstgewerbe- und Handwerkerschule Berlin-Charlottenburg.

Johannes Boehland
Johannes Boehland and a student From Johannes Boehland, Eine Monographie by Fritz Hellweg,
Heintze & Blanckertz, Berlin-Leipzig, 1938

Edward Johnston begat Anna Simons who begat Rudolf Weiß, who begat Johannes Boehland. Boehland, as a dedicated teacher at Hochschule für bildende Künste Berlin, Meisterschule für Graphik und Buchgewerbe Berlin and the städtischen Kunstgewerbe- und Handwerkerschule Berlin-Charlottenburg begat countless calligraphers, among them Ismar David.

Johannes Boehland was the son of two painters Richard Boehland and Flora Gaillard. His education exposed him to many forms of fine and commercial art and he was adept at drawing and painting as well as calligraphy and graphics. However, Boehland felt a calling for teaching early on and it is as a teacher that he arguably made his greatest contribution. In the 1956, Ismar David wrote to him:

Dear Mr. Boehland,

Many thanks for your friendly letter. I am very sorry not to have answered you sooner, particularly because the resumption of our relationship gave me such a good feeling. Unfortunately, I am one of those who easily forget a language and only learn new one with difficulty. So now I can’t express myself in any language as I would like. That’s the cause of my belated writing and I hope that you will have forbearance with me.

The following is an expression of what I care deeply about.
During my student years, it was you who brought the subject of writing close to me. Your influence let me see the harmony and rhythm in writing, woke in me an understanding of the culture, tradition and development of writing. You showed me how to apply expressive possibilities and the richness of form to writing. Your own enthusiasm and example were infectious and thrilling.

In my later life, I remember my student years with pleasure and have tried to further develop what I began under the guidance of my teacher. I would like to try to formulate my view (as far as it concerns the area of writing) which came to me gradually, and surely coincides with yours, as follows:

We should study and absorb the development of writing forms and try to understand the cultural epochs that these styles reflect. We should then re-make these writing forms that we use with our creative will and these forms should mirror our own feelings and our time. [We should let them] feel the pulse of our era.

Even if we don’t reach the perfection of form of the best classical forms, we nevertheless have to keep writing alive and to fill the forms, as applied, with new life. Writing should not only be a technical necessity for communication, but also a living form of art, which is newly shaped in each generation.
The photographic and printed reproductions that I send to you are all from work created in the last four years, with the exception of the Hebrew Type, that took more than ten years to develop, the final contours of which were delivered in 1950/51. I hardly have any material from the time I lived in Israel. I devoted a large portion of my time to interior architectural problems and exhibition projects. I only rarely had the opportunity to carry out graphic work. I hope that some of the material can be useful and of interest for the journal.

I would be very happy to hear from you again. We plan a trip to Europe in the summer (end of July to the beginning of August) and if these plans become a reality, we would probably also come to Germany and then I would…

Invitation by Johannes Boehland, 1963
Gertrud von Kalkstein Galerie, Berlin Spandau, Bismarckstrasse 61
Invitiation to the opening of the exhibition Johannes Boehland. Drawings from a recent study trip to Italy; and from book graphics and lettering on Monday November 11, 1963 at 6:30.
Open Monday-Friday 12-6:30 pm, Sunday 10 am-4 pm
Duration of the exhibition November 11-30, 1963

Frame from an SWR television video about Johannes Boehland
Frame from a 1963 video about a Boehland Exhibition at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz from German television channel SWR.
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