Cassirer, Bruno, 1872-1941Alternative names
Bruno (1872-1941) and Paul (1871-1926) Cassirer were cousins who in 1898 opened an art gallery closely associated with the Berlin Secession. Their opening exhibition featured works of Degas, Meunier, and Liebermann. Later shows included Corinth, Slevogt, Hodler, Bocklin, and Trubner; the emphasis, however, was on French impressionists. Soon after opening their gallery, the Cassirers began publishing. Their ties to Max Liebermann are close; their first publications were a set of prints by Liebermann and his essay on Degas.
In 1901, the cousins parted company. Paul Cassirer continued as art dealer, and Bruno took over as publisher; they agreed not to compete directly for a period of seven years. In 1902 Bruno Cassirer began publishing the journal Kunst and Künstler, which soon enjoyed success and influence. In the field of art and art history, he published Wilhelm von Bode, Alfred Lichtwark, Hugo v. Tschudi, Karl Scheffler, and many others. Bruno Cassirer also published in the fields of philosophy and literature. The lector for literature was Christian Morgenstern, who also served as editor of Das Theater, founded in 1903, and attracted among others, Julius Bab, Alfred Kerr, and Hugo v. Hofmannsthal to the journal. Bruno Cassirer also published fine quality, limited edition, illustrated books. Slevogt and Walser were among Cassirer's top illustrators. In 1908, when the cousins' agreement not to compete ended, Bruno Cassirer began publishing graphic art.
First the war and the inflation, finally the Nazis' rise to power (many of Cassirer's authors and artists were unofficially banned, and Cassirer himself was Jewish) hurt the publishing house. Bruno Cassirer left for England in 1938 to rebuild the house there. He died in 1941. His son-in-law Dr. George Hill continues the work of Bruno Cassirer (Publishers) Ltd.
If Bruno can be called the book Cassirer, Paul was the art Cassirer. In 1901, when the cousins parted company, Paul Cassirer took over the art gallery and strengthened his connections with the Berlin Secession, of which he was the business manager (since 1898). Paul Cassirer's gallery established itself as the center for the new modern art in Berlin, with exhibits of artists of the Berlin Secession, of French impressionists, and of van Gogh. As Cassirer attempted to strengthen his control over the Berlin Secession power struggles developed within the group. In 1910 he was asked to take a six-month leave, however he eventually became president of the group (1912-1915).
After 1908, Paul Cassirer undertook a number of projects in competition with his cousin. He first established the Pan-Presse to publish fine illustrated books and original graphic art; the first effort of the press was the Leatherstocking Tales, illustrated by Slevogt. In 1910 he established the literary/art journal Pan, which included Alfred Kerr among its editors. Among the contributors to Pan were Frank Wedekind, Georg Heym, Ernst Barlach, and Franz Marc. Connected with the journal was a society by the same name which sponsored theater productions for invited audiences of drama forbidden by the censor for public performance.
In 1914 at the beginning of the war, Paul Cassirer began publishing Kriegszeit, Künstler-Flugblätter, edited by Alfred Gold. The early illustrations and texts were patriotic and full of war fervor. Paul Cassirer volunteered for the army in July 1914, but returned in 1916 as an enemy of the war. By this time Kriegszeit had been discontinued; Leo Kestenberg was editing the new journal Der Bildermann, devoted to art rather than patriotism. During the remaining war years, Cassirer and his wife, actress Tilla Durieux, became increasingly active politically. Cassirer, an independent Social Democrat (USPD), established in 1918 the Bund neues Vaterland, a club that sponsored discussions with journalists and politicians.
Paul Cassirer's publishing house enjoyred prestige and success not only in the fields of art and art history, but also in politics and literature. Cassirer published works by Eduard Bernstein, Rosa Luxemburg, Erich Mühsam, Ernst Toller, Toller, Ernst Barlach, Ludwig Meidner, and Walter Hasenclever, and René Schuckele. Paul Cassirer committed suicide on January 7, 1926.
Further reading: For further information on the Bruno Cassirer and Paul Cassirer Publishing Houses consult the following articles that appeared in a special issue of the political Imprimatur in 1972: (copies available in the collection file upon request)
From the guide to the Cassirer collection, 1906-1933, (Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.)