Cartoonist, graphic artist, draughtsman, illustrator
Founded the magazine “Eilenspiegel” (1928). In cartoons and illustrations, he revealed the vices of bourgeois society, truthfully portrayed the life of the Berlin poor (the cycle “Children of the Street”, 1912).
Zille was born in Radeburg in Saxony into a poor family. The boy’s father was a master of precision mechanics. Since 1867, the boy lived in Berlin, where he was forced to earn his bread. From 1872 he studied to be a lithographer, and also attended a drawing class at an evening school. In 1877-1907, Zille was a technical employee of the “Photographic Society”. As a graphic artist, starting in 1900, he collaborated with the newspapers “Youth” (Jugend), “Simplicissimus” (Simplicissimus) and “Funny Pages” (Lustige Blätter). He died in 1929 in Berlin.Heinrich Zille belongs to the group of those Berlin artists who by the beginning of the twentieth century tried to show the proletarian face of the capital of the German Empire. In his countless sketches and drawings based on them, usually accompanied by brief dialogues, the artist depicted the lives of the poor, lumpen, workers and the unemployed in basements, backyards and eateries in the eastern and northern districts of Berlin, between Punk and Rummelsburg. With his works, the artist evoked the most contradictory feelings among his contemporaries. He was called both a respectful Heinrich Brush (Pinselheinrich) and an abusive Abortion Draftsman (Abortzeichner).
One of the visitors to the graphic exhibition at the Berlin Secession (1901), in which G. Zille also took part, spoke about him: “This guy (Zille) kills the joy of life in everyone.” At the same time, even theatrical productions were created based on Zille’s works. A vivid example of this is the “Court Ball at Zille” (Hofball bei Zille), staged in 1925 at the German Theater in Berlin.
Heinrich Zille’s nephew, who emigrated to South Africa in the 1930s, was the father of the famous South African politician Helen Zille.
Reference: Wikipedia, 2010