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Emil Orlik became involved in working for the theatre as a designer of costumes, stage sets and posters very early in his career. In the nineteen twenties he became a principal collaborator of Max Reinhard and of Gerhart Hauptmann, the leading producers and directors of the Deutsche Theater in Berlin. Both men became his intimate friends but besides them, there can hardly have been an actor or musician of his time whom Orlik did not know well or was at least acquainted with.

A fine example of his stage design is the etching Zu Michael Kramer , Gerhart Hauptmann zugeeignet (a scene from the play ‘Michael Kramer’ produced by Gerhart Hauptmann). Such famous actresses as Marlene Dietrich and Tilla Durieux were subjects of drawings and prints, as was the French music hall star Josephine Baker.

Besides his involvement in work for the theatre he was fascinated by the circus and the music hall and also by the audiences. In 1923 the publishers Amsler & Ruthardt issued a portfolio of 8 etchings, titled Zuhörer und Zuschauer (Theatre and Concert Audiences) in which Orlik depicted audiences of events as diverse as camel racing in Egypt, the circus, Chinese opera, Paris music halls and classical music concerts.

On our pages illustrating PORTRAITS by Orlik we show many prints and a few drawings of some of the most important actors and actresses of the German theatre of the first part of the 20th century, including his magnificent portraits in the book Spielen und Träumen of the writer, the celebrated actress Tilla Durieux.