Herbert Sandberg

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Grave of Herbert Sandberg and Lilo Grahn in the Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof in Berlin.

Herbert Sandberg (born April 18, 1908 in Posen , † March 18, 1991 in Berlin ) was a graphic artist and caricaturist . He was best known for caricatures in the Ulenspiegel magazine , which he directed , his Brecht sketches and his column Der cheeky pencil in the magazine Das Magazin .


After studying at the Arts and Crafts School in Breslau in 1925/26 and at the State Academy for Arts and Crafts there with Otto Mueller , Herbert Sandberg worked for various Berlin newspapers from 1928 to 1933 ( Berliner Tageblatt , Wahrer Jacob, etc.). In 1929 he joined the Association of Revolutionary Visual Artists (ARBKD). Because of his illegal activity in the KPD and because of active anti-Nazi activities , he was imprisoned in the Brandenburg prison in 1934 with the charge of “preparation for high treason” . From 1938 until the end of the war, Sandberg was incarcerated as a Jew and communist in Buchenwald concentration camp . In 1944 he made 18 drawings out of soot and chalk, which he later published in the cycle A Friendship .

Caricature Hermann Kant

After the Second World War , Sandberg and Günther Weisenborn were co-editor of the satirical magazine Ulenspiegel from December 1945 to August 1950 . In the period from 1947 to 1961 he and his wife Eugenie created numerous sets for Berlin theaters under the name Sandbergkollektiv . Eugenie Sandberg (1923–1996) was a trained stage and costume designer. Sandberg's sister-in-law Rosemarie Spies , who is now a well-known ceramist , also worked initially . From 1954 to 1957 Herbert Sandberg was the successor to Cay von Brockdorff and editor-in-chief of the magazine Bildende Kunst . He then worked as a freelancer in Berlin , where he lived in the so-called intelligence settlement at Strasse 201 . From 1970 to 1972 he taught as a guest lecturer at the Leipzig School of Graphics and Book Art . In 1972 he was appointed professor . Herbert Sandberg was a member of the GDR Academy of Arts .

In 1976 Herbert Sandberg protested together with Fritz Cremer and Theo Balden with the declaration “ Maybe one could reconsider the measure taken against Wolf Biermann's expatriation .

His satirical columns were known to a wide readership. From 1954 to 1990 he presented caricaturists from home and abroad in the magazine Das Magazin under the name Der cheeky drawing pencil , from 1954 he drew the series With a pointed pen for the Sunday edition of the newspaper Neues Deutschland and from 1967 the portrait series Sandbergs kleine Galerie in the NBI .

From 1981 until his death Herbert Sandberg was married to the actress Lilo Grahn (1943–2007). His grave is located in the cemetery of the Dorotheenstadt and Friedrichswerder communities in Berlin. The funeral speech was held by his artist friend Ronald Paris , the sculpture on his grave was made by the sculptor Ingeborg Hunzinger .

Herbert Sandberg in the formalism debate

Herbert Sandberg was one of the first to speak out in the formalism debate. After Alexander Dymschitz had denigrated French classics such as Picasso and Chagall , but also about German painters such as Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Karl Hofer in his article On the formalistic direction in German painting in the SMAD newspaper Daily Rundschau , he countered on December 17th 1948 in the same sheet: “We should not only arrogantly accuse bourgeois artists of decadence and consider third-class artists to be more important than Schmidt-Rottluff just because they illustrate social issues ... We are proud to be able to build on a tradition, that of Goya until Masereel represented the great movements of the last century, but at the same time we do not want to forego the poetry of Paul Klee and Franz Marc , because art must not become sterile. "

In 1956, Sandberg criticized in his courageous report The realistic painters on the XXVIII. Biennale some Soviet artists: "The twenty-two years for the first reappeared Artist of the USSR showed too great a wealth of academic painted scenes ... you could not with the Italian realists Guttoso , Zigaina, Mirabella, Treccani or sculptors Mazacurati and Manzù compete . The realism of these artists had a more convincing effect because it was more relentless, because it did not avoid the form of conflict full of conflict. ”It is not least due to this article that Herbert Sandberg was replaced in 1957 as editor-in-chief of the magazine Bildende Kunst .

It was only when Herbert Sandberg was awarded the National First Class Prize in 1983 that the “stupid formalism debate” was finally over.

Works (selection)

Herbert Sandberg (left) at the 8th Congress of the Association of Visual Artists of the GDR, 1978

Graphic cycles


  • 1927 The poet Klabund
  • 1948 The zealots
  • 1948 Different opinions
  • 1957 Anne Frank
  • 1959 Brecht's interrogation
  • 1975 David and Goliath

Own books and book illustrations

  • 1949 A friendship. 30 woodcut sketches. Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 1949.
  • 1955 The men's mirror. 30 heads. Volk und Welt publishing house, Berlin 1955.
  • 1956 A nice economy. Kongressverlag, Berlin 1956.
  • 1958 With a pointed pen. 50 well-known minds and unknown anecdotes. Eulenspiegel Verlag, Berlin 1958.
  • 1963 The cheeky pencil. Eulenspiegel Verlag, Berlin 1963.
  • 1967 My Brecht sketchbook. Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 1967.
  • 1988 mirror of a life. Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin and Weimar 1988. ISBN 3351010176




  • 1968, television of the GDR : Beloved art, Herbert Sandberg - The way. A film by Irmtraut Wecks
  • 1969, DEFA : A Path to the Manifesto. A film by Gerhard Jentsch about the work on the graphic series of the same name.
  • 1980, DEFA / Television of the GDR: The cheeky pencil. Director: Hanna Emuth

Web links

Commons : Herbert Sandberg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. http://www.max-lingner-stiftung.de/intellektivensiedlung
  2. Explanation Perhaps the measure taken could be reconsidered in: Neues Deutschland from December 22, 1976.
  3. Article by Herbert Sandberg The formalism and the new art in: Daily review of December 17, 1948.
  4. ^ Report The realistic painters on the XXVIII. Biennale in: Fine Arts , issue 11–12 / 1956.
  5. ^ Herbert Sandberg: Mirror of a life (Aufbau-Verlag Berlin and Weimar, 1st edition 1988, page 104)