Founded 1919, in the wake of the horror known as The Great War, Der Orchideengarten (The Orchid Garden) is considered to be the first fantasy magazine. A 2017 Kickstarter introduced the magazine to a niche American audience in an eponymous book by Thomas Negovan, proprietor of the visionary Century Guild Museum of Art in Los Angeles. The genre has also been written about by others, which is why I am floored not to have known about it before (thanks for opening my eyes, Henrik Drescher), especially having covered Simplicissimus.
“Published when German art was at its height of decadence and debauchery, the magazine included a wide selection of new and reprinted stories by both German-language and foreign writers ranging from suspense and terror to crime and the eerily erotic,” notes the Kickstarter. It also reminds me of one of my favorite fantasy-erotic-symbolists, Alfred Kubin, who along with Heinrich Kley and A. Paul Weber, was among the masters of German fantasie und symbolik.
“The artworks range from peculiar medieval etchings to occult woodblocks to expressionist visions—all balancing the romantic and the gothic with hyper-elegant sophistication,” writes Negovan.
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About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →