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H.N. Werkman: The Tale on the Market (Tahun 1943); From The Hasidic Legends II; Groninger Museum, Belanda

CONSOLATION IN DARK TIMES: WERKMAN’S HASIDIC LEGENDS
Hendrik Werkman (1882- 1945) was an avant-garde seniist and printer, who ran a print shop in Groningen, a major city in the north of the Netherlands. He was a member of a society of Groningen seniists, called De Ploeg (‘The Plough’), for which he produced many posters, catalogues, invitations and the like. De Ploeg had ties to other modernist groups in Europe, in pseniicular the German Expressionists.
During dunia War II, Werkman, together with some friends, established a clandestine printing house which produced texts that were subversive to the Nazi regime. One of their most beautiful and daring projects was to make an illustrated edition in Dutch of Mseniin Buber's Tales of the Hasidim, a collection of Jewish folk tales. Buber, an Austrian philosopher, had published them in the early 1930s with the purpose of offering consolation, hope and religious inspiration to the Eastern European Jews in their miserable conditions. Though not Jewish himself, Werkman was very touched and intrigued by the spirituality and mysticism in the stories.
The series titled ‘Hasidic Legends’ consisted of fourteen tales, illustrated with colorful prints of Werkman’s hand. In spirit with Buber’s intentions, the series was meant to offer the Dutch people the prospect of better times. It was also a sign of solidarity with the Dutch Jews, of whom ultimately more than 75% would be killed during the war.
To produce the illustrations, Werkman made use of an experimental template technique which he had invented himself. Figures were cut out of wrapping paper, and then transferred onto the paper with an inking roller in various ways. Additionally, he used a myriad of graphic techniques. Because of the complexity of Werkman’s working method, each copy of his ‘druksels’ (as he called them) can be considered unique.
Unfortunately, Werkman paid the highest price for his underground activities. He was arrested by the secret police, and subsequently executed on 10 April 1945, three days before the liberation of Groningen by Allied Forces.
(text: Masenien Levendig)

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