Ernst J. Wasmuth has been the director since 1990 in the third generation. The firm was founded in 1872 in Berlin by Ernst Wasmuth and rapidly advanced to become one of the leading architecture and art book publishers in central Europe. The technologically backward status of 19th century picture reproduction became the focus of the firm, which quickly understood the significance of the rapidly evolving technology of photography for publishing. In addition to elaborately illustrated books on foreign architecture, exquisite works of art and portraits of great artists, the inventory also included art forms of nature, the history of costumes and the documentation of archaeological excavations and discoveries from antiquity. The portfolio featured famous works like Hermann Muthesius’ “Das englische Haus” or Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Ausgeführte Bauten und Entwürfe. Studies and Executed Buildings”, but also the magazine “Der Städtebau” which was conceptualized at that time by Camillo Sitte, as well as “Die Architektur im XX. Jahrhundert. Architecture of the XX. Century”. The architectural discussion in Germany was marked by “Wasmuths Lexikon der Baukunst” as well as “Wasmuths Monatshefte für Baukunst”. The influential theoretician and building culture politician Werner Hegemann (“Das steinerne Berlin”) along with Cornelius Gurlitt and Bruno Möhring were some of the outstanding intellects associated with the publisher.
After heavy damage from the Second World War and the loss of the original headquarters in Markgrafenstrasse in Berlin the firm re-opened shop in Tübingen. The bookshop and antiquarian bookseller continued to operate in Berlin until 2014. The focus of the publishing program continued to be architecture, art and archeology. In addition to groundbreaking works on architectural history, many monographs on modern architecture, art and design have been published. In response to changes over time the publisher has diversified into museums guides, exhibition catalogues, portraits of architects and high quality illustrated volumes on photography, applied art, as well as academic series on art history, archeology and numismatics.
The Ernst Wasmuth Verlag is not the only publisher, which has been confronted with the challenge posed by the explosive developments in digitalization over the last two decades. In order to meet that challenge the publisher can draw on a stable tradition, which was always interested in new developments, displaying today a readiness to go on the offensive in the face of the innovation ushered in by the age of the internet and social media.
It’s always been a matter of integrating the new while maintaining and continuing the tried and true.