Poster for Springtime in Wiesbaden circa 1920-1926. Hohlwein was born there, in the Rhine-Main region of Germany, though he and his work are associated with Munich and Bavaria in southern Germany. There were two schools of Gebrauchsgrafik in Germany at the time, North and South. In the north, the great designer and illustrator was Lucian Bernhard, whose poster for a 1931 auto show appears below.
Bernhard's style is totally different.
In this Mercedes poster of the period (1920-1926), and prior examples, Hohlwein's work seems to be dependent more and more on photographic images. However, he takes his adaptations to another level seeming to know when to let go of any hold the photo may have of him. His leaving images to the imagination of the viewer and creative use of color dispels any suggestion that he might be just another illustrator who uses photos as a crutch. (That's a term we used to hear a lot of fifty years ago until photographic realism just about destroyed tasteful illustration -- and much of gallery painting as well.)
A lavender bus? I can't believe the colors he used here. The background is very similar to a technique art directors used for sketches to show clients for approvals. Hohlwein has rendered the Mercedes and the bus in a sketchy technique rarely seen in the U.S.A. to sell automotive products. This is from the period between wars, 1920-1926, when Hohlwein was enjoying great popularity. The style also indicates a simple, quick solution to honor as many commitments as possible.
In this poster the technique is much more deliberate but it still achieved with a great deal of restraint. I l have always had the feeling that Hohlwein used a photo of Norman Rockwell for the subject. Circa 1925.
This photographic profile of Norman Rockwell, albeit taken late in his life, bears an uncanny resemblance to the profile in Hohlwein's illustration.
Were these two great icons of illustration aware of each other? Most certainly. Hohlwein had an exhibition in New York in 1923. Perhaps they visited and corresponded with each other. At the very least, I would like to think that Hohlwein was paying homage to his American colleague with the very famous profile.