Master of Arts in Art History (M.A.)
Type of Paper/Work
Heather M. Shirey
Richard Holzschuh (1889-1968) is a forgotten and unstudied artist from the first half of
the twentieth century who lived and worked in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His pen and ink drawings focused on fantasy themes that derived from well-known fairy and folk tales. I was introduced to his work in a 2016 exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and was intrigued to learn that there was no existing academic work on Holzschuh or his drawings. This paper begins to fill that gap and aims to rediscover both the artist and his work. Holzschuh created incredibly detailed pen and ink drawings of gnarly trees, elves and goblins, and whimsical characters who inhabited an imaginative, Edenic world. While these works were not tied to specific literary texts, I will argue that they capture the spirit of illustrations, and place Holzschuh next to other illustrators in the canon of American illustration. This paper will use primary research to document Holzschuh’s life and art. It will look at the workmanship and composition of the drawings themselves, focusing on a selection of works from the Richard Holzschuh Collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and at British artists from the Golden Age of Illustration who influenced him. It will focus specifically on Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Harry Clarke, and Aubrey Beardsley. A second objective of this paper will be to explore the theme of nostalgia in Holzschuh’s fantasy drawings. The nostalgic look and feel of his drawings went against the artistic trends in post-World War II America and is one reason his work fell out of popular favor. Holzschuh knowingly inlaid his drawings with a nostalgia for a style of illustration that had passed decades earlier, and he happily pursued his art in this manner as an amateur for over forty years.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Nemmers, Louise E., "Rediscovering the Imaginative Drawings of Richard Holzschuh: Storytelling though Art and Nostalgia" (2021). Art History Master's Qualifying Papers. 46.