Helmut Salden Archive
HELMUT SALDEN ARCHIVE
‘My need for orderliness and subtlety in my work’, Helmut Salden once said, ‘derives from the chaos in my life.’
Salden (1910-1996) grew up in Essen in Germany, but left Germany in 1933 after Hitler’s takeover. After time in Paris, Majorca and Switzerland, he found himself in the Netherlands, in part through the agency of the poet Hendrik Marsman. Here Menno ter Braak introduced him to Dutch publishers, who were soon taken by his work.
During the Second World War Salden experienced going into hiding, arrest, the death sentence (because he was a conscientious objector), reprieve, disciplinary punishment in a detention centre, deportation, imprisonment in several concentration camps and liberation by the Russians.
After the war he returned to the Netherlands, where – according to his principles of orderliness and subtlety – he became a celebrated book designer. All in all, he worked for 65 publishers. Most of his work was executed for De Arbeiderspers (258 titles, plus 2 magazines), Van Oorschot (181 titles, including the Russische Bibliotheek [Russian Library]), Stols (86 titles, plus one magazine) and Contact (75 titles, plus two magazines).
Salden’s work was exhibited and rewarded many times. Twice he was awarded a national prize: in 1949 for the collected works of Menno ter Braak and in 1952 for the collected works of J.H. Leopold. In 1954 he received the H.N. Werkman Award from the city of Amsterdam for the collected works of Paul van Ostaijen. After having won several other foreign awards, in 1994 he was presented with the Oeuvre Award of the Stichting Fonds voor Beeldende Kunsten, Vormgeving en Bouwkunst [The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture].
From the early eighties onwards Salden no longer accepted commissions, but in fact he would often comply with ‘requests’ and he worked until the day before his death. The last design he made was a vignette for the Friends of the National Library of the Netherlands.
In 1996 the Museum Meermanno acquired Helmut Salden’s complete archive.