For the past decade, Thomas Negovan, the deeply erudite proprietor of the visionary Century Guild Museum of Art in Los Angeles has been publishing beautiful art books, many of them funded via a smart and efficient use of Kickstarter. He’s one of the most successful and consistent publishers on the platform and I can personally bear witness that his deluxe volumes on artists like Clive Barker, Gail Potocki, David Mack and Michael Hussar are truly exquisite books indeed. He’s also publishing limited edition lithographs reprinting famous posters from the Symbolist movement. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Los Angeles, you definitely need to check out his space, but if not, he’s got an active online store as well.
Negovan’s newest project The Orchid Garden: Diabolical Fantasia collects images from The Orchid Garden, the very first fantasy magazine in history, preceding even Weird Tales by about four years. As you might expect from Germans during the era of the Weimar Republic, the publican was filled with sex and murder by way of Expressionist linework. Freaky flowers, gigantic insects, impossible creatures and Lovecraftian visions, The Orchid Garden had all that and more:
Der Orchideengarten was published after the First World War 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.
While the literary content is historically significant, many of the stories have been reprinted in multiple places across the last century; we have focused our attention on what has gone undocumented: the incredible artworks that illustrated these stories.
The artworks range from peculiar medieval etchings to occult woodblocks to expressionist visions—all balancing the romantic and the gothic with hyper-elegant sophistication.
Der Orchideengarten gets mentioned frequently on blogs, at fantasy conventions, and at certain full-moon cauldron gatherings, but the same low-resolution images get shared over and over again. This book is an opportunity to explore the 1919 publication in depth, with high resolution scans made from a pristine collection!
There are also limited edition letterpress prints available.
Below, some of the images from The Orchid Garden that will be seen in the new book: