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Reimann School, London

  • Name:
    Reimann School, London
  • Kind of Organisation:
    Art School
  • Introduction:

    The Reimann School in London opened in 1937 and was a branch of the Berlin Schule Reimann, training students in commercial art and industrial design.

    Word Count: 24

  • Content:

    The Berlin-based Schule Reimann was a private art school for arts and crafts founded by Albert Reimann in 1902. From 1933, the school was repeatedly the target of National Socialist attacks, as Albert Reimann came from a Jewish family. Subjected to house searches and articles in the Nazi newspaper Der schwarze Korps that denigrated the school, the Schule Reimann counted among its teaching staff such avant-garde artists as the fashion illustrators Erna Schmidt-Caroll, Kenan and Annie Offterdinger and photographers like Werner Graeff and Walter Nürnberg (later Walter Nurnberg). Among its student photographers was Rolf Tietgens. In 1935, Reimann handed over the management of the school to Hugo Häring.

    The Schule Reimann opened a branch in London in 1937. “Nazi-ism is not for export, we were told, but happily some of the good things of Germany are. The Reimann school for commercial art, which has a big name in Germany, has opened a school in London with Mr. Austin Cooper as principal and a strong staff, of whom three-quarters are British”, the The Manchester Guardian newspaper wrote in 1937 (Private Wire 1937). Albert Reimann’s son Heinz founded the Reimann School in the borough of Westminster. It became a pioneer in the training of students wishing to pursue a commercial and industrial career path (Anonymous 1937). London art schools such as the Royal College of Art and the Central School did not collaborate with industry at the time – so the Reimann School filled a vacuum (Wickenhauser 1993, 471–474).

    The London Reimann School had a number of departments, including Display, Commercial Art, Fashion and Dressmaking, Photography, Interior Design and General Study. The students were given the greatest possible freedom, i.e. they chose the classes according to their needs, which was a radical break from traditional artistic education in England. Suga quotes a former student: “Most English art students at that time tended to be rather conventionally taught & the very nature of the structure at Reimann leaned towards a more adventurous approach, greater variety & experiment.” (Suga 2006, 145) The training was practical, and affiliated workshops called ‘studios’ worked closely with industry and commerce. The school prospectus states: “The essential idea underlying the Reimann training is the combination of school (representing education) and studios (representing practice) under the same roof and side by side – so that the student is offered unique facilities to become familiar not only with the theory but with the actual practice of the conditions which will govern his future.” (1936, see Wickenheiser 1993, 475) The students were able to come into contact with clients via the integrated studio. Under the headline “Unexpected Lead from Berlin”, the new school was described in The Manchester Guardian in 1936: “The curriculum will include window-dressing and photography, and there will also be a ‘service section,’ which will design and produce displays for sale to manufacturers and stores. It seems that our London shop-window displays have been unfavourably compared even with Berlin, and now Berlin is going to help us to improve our taste and methods. What will Paris say – or Vienna?” (Private Wire 1936)

    As in Berlin, the Reimann School employed only part-time staff who also worked in the field and were thus able to bring current professional experience into the classroom (Suga 2006, 144). Both emigrant and local teachers taught at the school. Austin Cooper, a poster artist who had immigrated from Canada, was the school’s principal. Hildegard Reimann (née Kölling) was head of the Fashion Department, as she had been in Berlin. The Display Department, the first of its kind in an English art school, was headed by Heinz Loew (1903–1981), who had trained at the Dessau Bauhaus and emigrated from Berlin to London in 1936. Loew also conceived the Reimann School’s exhibitions (Wickenheiser 1993, 487), which were important for the external presentation of the art school. Else Taterka, who was responsible for the school’s logo, also taught in the Display and Commercial Art departments and had previously taught at the Berlin Schule Reimann from 1916 to 1936.

    The industrial photographer Walter Nurnberg (1907–1991) studied photography with Werner Graeff at the Reimann School in Berlin. In 1934 Nurnberg emigrated to London. In 1937 he began teaching part-time at the Reimann School in London, while continuing his photographic practice and also working as an author. Nurnberg published two bestsellers with Focal Press, a publishing house specialising in photo guides founded by the emigrant Andor Kraszna-Krausz in 1937: Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods in 1940 (17th edition 1971), and Lighting for Portraiture. Technique and Application in 1948 (7th edition 1969). The photographer Alex Strasser also published photo guides with Focal Press and taught photography at the Reimann School. Strasser had already published numerous photo books in Germany with the Wilhelm Knapp (Halle) publishing house and these were released by Focal Press in English translation, including A Good Picture Every Time (1938, Jedenfalls gute Bilder) and Snaps of Children and How to Take Them (1938, Kinder-Bilder, wie man sie macht). Later, Strasser also published new photo guides with Focal Press, providing essential advice for amateur photographers (All about the right moment in action photography, 1940), and also contributed to the historiography of early photography (Immortal Portraits, 1941; Victorian Photography, 1942). At the Reimann School, Strasser taught “Substandard Films”, “Camera Journalism” and “Film Making”, and from 1939 also offered home study courses in his specialist field of photojournalism (Wickenheiser 1993, 505).

    The photographic department was housed in the attic of the Reimann School: The building had been created from a converted warehouse by Stanley Hall, Easton & Robertson architects, who were also responsible for the British Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. With its painted brick façade the school was less striking than its Berlin counterpart, but both announced their name in large lettering that could be seen from afar. Inside, the Reimann School London was businesslike and functionally furnished (ibid., 480f.). Advertisements for the school appeared regularly in trade journals like Display and daily newspapers such as The Manchester Guardian and the number of pupils increased from 30 to 200 within the first 10 months of its existence; the total number of pupils by the outbreak of the Second World War was 700 (ibid., 508, 512). Many of the students had already received artistic training elsewhere and came to further their education and qualifications: in 1939, The Province newspaper mentions that “Miss Molly Little of Victoria is the first commercial art student to get the Reimann School diploma. She has been for a year at the school in England, the principal of which is Mr. Austin Cooper, who is also a Canadian.” (Anonymous 1939).

    Among Reimann School students were the Berlin-born graphic and poster designer Manfred Reiss (1922–1987) and the poster designer Hans Arnold Rothholz (1919–2000), who emigrated to London in 1933 and studied commercial art and display design at the school. Likewise, the emigrant Czech graphic designer Dorrit Dekk (1917–2014), who came to London from Vienna in 1938, continued her education at the Reimann School and later achieved great popularity through her contribution to the Festival of Britain in 1951 (Games 2015). Alex Kroll (1916–2008), who came from Russia and grew up in Berlin, also received his artistic training at the Reimann School. Alex Kroll studied commercial art and display design and became art director of British Vogue in 1942. Kroll moved to House & Garden magazine, where he successfully collaborated with his former teacher at the Reimann School, the typographer Robert Harling (Horwell 2008). This professional constellation shows that during its brief existence the Reimann School brought together a number of prolific artists, both teachers and students, who left a lasting mark on British design. Natasha Kroll, Alex Kroll’s sister, had studied show-window display at the Schule Reimann in Berlin and, after emigrating, taught at the Reimann School in London before becoming display manager for the retail store Simpsons of Piccadilly in 1942. Later, Kroll became known for her production design at the BBC (Lodge 2004).
    After the outbreak of war, the Reimann School continued with its teaching, also employing its long-distance “Home Study Courses” programme with 179 lessons (Wickenheiser 1993, 513). However, travel restrictions, combined with the international make-up of the students, who came from the Dominions, Scandinavia, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, North and South America, Spain, Italy and Turkey (Suga 2006, 144) meant that this was soon no longer feasible and the school ceased operations in 1941. In 1944 the building was destroyed by bombing. The Schule Reimann in Berlin had also been demolished in an air raid in 1943.

    Word Count: 1366

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    4–10 Regency Street, Pimlico, London SW1.

  • Signature Image:
    Reimann School, London, leaflet, January 1937, detail (HA Rothholz Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives).
  • Media:
    Reimann School, London, leaflet, January 1937, front cover (HA Rothholz Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives).
    Reimann School, London, leaflet, January 1937, back cover (HA Rothholz Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives).
    Advertisement for Reimann School, London in The Manchester Guardian, 24 February 1938, p. 1 (Photo: Private Archive).
    Private Wire. “New School for Commercial Art.” The Manchester Guardian, 13 January 1937, p. 10 (Photo: Private Archive).
    Anonymous. “Canadians in Art World in Britain.” The Province, 28 January 1939, p. 45 (Photo: Private Archive). Article mentioning the diploma of a young Canadian student.
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Anonymous. “Commercial and Industrial Art: The Reimann School at Work.” The Times, 17 November 1937.

    Anonymous. “Canadians in Art World in Britain.” The Province, 28 January 1939, p. 45.

    Breakell, Sue, and Lesley Whitworth. “Émigré Designers in the University of Brighton Design Archives.” Journal of Design History, vol. 28, no. 1, 2015, pp. 83–97, doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/jdh/ept006.

    Games, Naomi. “Dorrit Dekk obituary.” The Guardian, 7 January 2015, www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/jan/07/dorrit-dekk. Accessed 8 March 2021.

    Horwell, Veronica. “Alex Kroll.” The Guardian, 2 July 2008, www.theguardian.com/media/2008/jul/02/pressandpublishing. Accessed 8 March 2021.

    Lodge, Bernard. “Natasha Kroll.” The Guardian, 7 April 2004, www.theguardian.com/media/2004/apr/07/broadcasting.guardianobituaries. Accessed 8 March 2021.

    Private Wire. “Unexpected Lead from Berlin.” The Manchester Guardian, 20 November 1936, p. 10.

    Private Wire. “New School for Commercial Art.” The Manchester Guardian, 13 January 1937, p. 10.

    Reimann, Albert. Die Reimann-Schule in Berlin (Schriften zur Berliner Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte, 8). Hessling, 1966.

    Shapira, Elana, editor. Designing Transformation. Jews and Cultural Identity in Central European Modernism. Bloomsbury, 2021.

    Suga, Yasuko. “Modernism, Commercialism and Display Design in Britain: The Reimann School and Studios of Industrial and Commercial Art.” Journal of Design History, vol. 19, no. 2, 2006, pp. 137–154, doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/jdh/epl008.

    Suga, Yasuko. The Reimann School. A Design Diaspora. Artmonsky Arts, 2013.

    Wickenheiser, Swantje. Die Reimann-Schule in Berlin und London (1902–1943). Unter besonderer Berücksichtigung von Mode- und Textilentwurf (dissertation). Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, 1993.

    Wickenheiser, Swantje. Die Reimann-Schule in Berlin und London 1902–1943: Ein jüdisches Unternehmen zur Kunst- und Designausbildung internationaler Prägung bis zur Vernichtung durch das Hitlerregime. Shaker Media, 2009.

    Word Count: 238

  • Archives and Sources:

    HA Rothholz Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives.

    Word Count: 8

  • Acknowledgements:

    My deepest thanks go to Lesley Whitworth from University of Brighton Design Archives for providing me with images of the Reimann School leaflet.

    Word Count: 23

  • Author:
    Burcu Dogramaci
  • Date of Founding:
    1937
  • Date of Disbandment:
    1941
  • Participants (selection):

    Austin Cooper, Doritt Dekk, Alex Kroll, Natasha Kroll, Hans Loew, Walter Nurnberg, Hans Reimann, Hildegard Reimann, Manfred Reiss, Hans Arnold Rothholz, Alex Strasser, Else Taterka.

  • Metropolis:
    London
  • Entry in process:
    no
  • Burcu Dogramaci. "Reimann School, London." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/1470/object/5145-11260553, last modified: 20-06-2021.
  • László Moholy-Nagy
    PhotographerGraphic DesignerPainterSculptor

    László Moholy-Nagy emigrated to London in 1935, where he worked in close contact with the local avantgarde and was commissioned for window display decoration, photo books, advertising and film work.

    Word Count: 30

    László Moholy-Nagy, Cover of sales leaflet for Marcel Breuer’s Isokon Long Chair, 1937 (Pritchard Papers, University of East Anglia, © László Moholy-Nagy).
    László Moholy-Nagy, Bill of Fare, farewell dinner menu for Walter Gropius, London, March 1937, front page (Pritchard Papers, University of East Anglia, © László Moholy-Nagy).Mary Benedetta. The Street Markets of London. Photographs by László Moholy-Nagy. (reissued 1972). Benjamin Blom, 1972, “Petticoat Lane: The Spectacle Man” and “Petticoat Lane: In a side street. Some Arabian visitors at a second-hand clothes stall” (Photo: Private Archive, © The Moholy-Nagy Foundation).Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, their triplets and Hattula Moholy-Nagy at 7 Farm Walk, the London home of László and Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, June 1936 (provided by The Moholy-Nagy Foundation).
    London
    Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods
    Photo guideBook

    Lighting for Photography from 1940 by the émigré photographer Walter Nurnberg was one of a number of successful photo guides produced by Andor Kraszna-Krausz’s Focal Press publishing house.

    Word Count: 28

    Walter Nurnberg. Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods. Focal Press, 1942, 2nd edition, cover (Photo: Private Archive).
    Walter Nurnberg. Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods. Focal Press, 1942, 2nd edition, pp. 94–95 (Photo: Private Archive).Walter Nurnberg. Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods. Focal Press, 1942, 2nd edition, pp. 160–161 (Photo: Private Archive).Walter Nurnberg. Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods. Focal Press, 1942, 2nd edition, pp. 244–245 (Photo: Private Archive).
    London
    Rolf Tietgens
    PhotographerEditorWriter

    Rolf Tietgens was a German émigré photographer who arrived in New York in 1938. Although, in the course of his photographic career, his artistic and surrealist images were published and shown at exhibitions, his work, today, is very little known.

    Word Count: 39

    Portrait of Rolf Tietgens, n.d. (© Keith de Lellis Gallery, New York).
    Der Hafen by Rolf Tietgens, Ehrmann Verlag, 1936.Rolf Tietgens. “What is Surrealism?” Minicam, July 1939, pp. 30–31 (Photo: Helene Roth).Photo by Rolf Tietgens of Streamliners at the World’s Fair published in the World's Fair special issue of U.S. Camera, August 1939, p. 45 (Photo: Helene Roth).Photo by Rolf Tietgens of the Communication Mall at the World’s Fair 1939 published in the World's Fair special issue of U.S. Camera, August 1939, p. 38 (Photo: Helene Roth).Rolf Tietgens. “Capture the ‘Life’ of the object.” Minicam, January 1940, pp. 46–47 (Photo: Helene Roth).Rolf Tietgens. “Capture the ‘Life’ of the object.” Minicam, January 1940, pp. 48–49 (Photo: Helene Roth).Felix Kraus. "Why Photographers experiment." Popular Photography, February 1945, pp. 28–29 (Photo: Helene Roth).Hans Arp. Human Concretion, 1935, limestone 73 x 49,5 x 45 cm, photograph by Rolf Tietgens and reproduced in Arp: On My Way. Poetry and Essays 1912–1947, edited by Robert Motherwell, Wittenborn, Schulz, 1948, pp. 130–131 (Photo: Helene Roth).Published photo by Rolf Tietgens (Feininger 1952, 116–117).Times Square. U.S.A. (1952) photobook by Rolf Tietgens, Keith de Lellis Gallery, 1992 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    New York