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Frederika Sophia Cohen (1903-1943), also known as Fré or "Freco", was a graphic artist and designer, typographer, and book illustrator. Born into a working-class Jewish family in Amsterdam, she became an early member of the youth organization of the Sociaal-Democratische Arbeiderspartij, where she began to experiment with various art forms as a teenager and received her earliest design commissions. She went on to work at various offices while taking evening courses in drawing. Inspired by Art Deco and the Dutch De Stijl movement, she created advertising and promotional designs. From 1923 on, she worked for a socialist party publisher and gradually developed her skills not only in graphic design, but also typography and typesetting, then an almost exclusively male domain. She was active for such journals as "De Proletarische Vrouw" (The proletarian woman) and illustrated many publications by the SDAP's youth organization. After receiving a stipend, she was able to receive a university degree in graphic design before going on to work for the City of Amsterdam. For over a decade, she was responsible for practically all official communications and campaigns. She also managed to remain active in book design and illustrated works by many of the German Jewish writers who had fled Germany for the Netherlands in the 1930s. After the German occupation, she was forced to go into hiding herself in 1941. She was most likely denounced in 1943, which led to her arrest by the SS; she committed suicide shortly thereafter.
The present group is broadly representative of Cohen's career in socialist publishing, from her early work in 1920 until 1938. It includes numerous iconic works for socialist youth publications, including pictorial wrappers, typographic design, woodcut and linocut book illustrations, as well as three bookplates. Also included are two scarce examples of prospectuses for Em. Querido, with cover designs by Cohen. Despite significant research on her work in the Netherlands (with a substantial archive of her original artwork housed at the Stedelijk Museum), Cohen and her prolific accomplishments in graphic design are still little known in the United States. Of the twenty items on offer, only one is located in a North American institution via KVK, OCLC.
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Book ID: 51014