Die Geschichten von Jan und Jon und von ihrem Lotsen-Fisch

Lou Scheper-Berkenkamp


Leipzig: Verlag Ernst Wunderlich, 1948. First edition. 4to (29,5x21cm), illustrated card wrappers. Unpaginated 20pp. Text in German. Wrappers show some discoloration and minor soiling. Three small dents on cover. Spine-ends slightly brittle. Pages are toned, but content is clean and unmarked. Overall, in very good condition.

Die Geschichten von Jan und Jon und von ihrem Lotsen-Fisch is a significant postwar children’s book by Lou Scheper-Berkenkamp, one of the first women to study at the Bauhaus. Under the guidance of renowned figures like Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, and Wassily Kandinsky, she defied boundaries by concentrating on decorative and mural painting, despite women typically being limited to “female arts” such as weaving and interior design. Scheper-Berkenkamp also contributed to Oskar Schlemmer’s famed Triadisches Ballet, designing sets and costumes for groundbreaking Bauhaus performances.

Originally created for her children in the 1930s, the book was published in post-war Berlin, overcoming obstacles like paper shortages and censorship regulations. While praised for its artistic design and Bauhaus influence, Scheper-Berkenkamp’s work faced criticism for its surreal elements, with some arguing that “children’s books should be clear and convey a healthy realism. They should not invoke nightmares”.

Lou Scheper-Berkenkamp published four children’s books, and actively contributed to Berlin’s cultural resurgence. After her husband, Hinnerk Scheper’s sudden death in February 1957, she continued his work in color design for Berlin’s architectural landscape. Although her own exhibitions took a back seat, she continued to publish articles on building development and monument preservation, and was involved in various color consultation and design projects. Among her most important projects were the color design for the New Berlin Philharmonic by Hans Scharoun and the New Berlin State Library, although the latter was not implemented before her death in 1976.