Klaus Vonderwerth was a German cartoonist and illustrator, who was best-known for his work for publications in the DDR.

Born in Berlin in 1936, he showed an early talent for drawing. He was trained as a decorator in East-Berlin (1951-1954), before he went to study Visual Arts in West-Berlin (1955-1959). He lived in the borough of Schöneberg during this period, while earning some money with several odd jobs. During the holidays, he loved to hitchhike, visiting Spain and also Africa. When the East-German borders were closed in 1961, he continued to travel as far as he could and visited Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. He also began his artistic career during this period, always trying to pick jobs with no party affiliation.


He illustrated record covers for East-German musical acts like The Klaus Renft Combo, Frank Schöbel and Die Puhdys, and for records with fairytale plays and Peter Hacks stories. He illustrated children's books and drew cartoons for the cultural monthly Das Magazin and the satirical magazine Eulenspiegel. He furthermore drew short humorous comic strips in the children's magazine Der Trommel, starring the dog 'Albert' (1964-1965), the little black kid 'Ako' (1964-1966) and the little robot 'Kybert' (1966-1967). A comic strip called 'Ruf 110' appeared in five episodes on the humor page of Der Wochenpost in 1963.

Die Abenteuer des kleinen Ako

With his cartoons, Vonderwerth poked fun at the stupidity and narrowmindedness of the time in a subtle way. On a couple of occasions, he got into trouble with the authorities. His design for the film poster of the tragicomedy 'The Legend of Paul and Paula' (1973) featured the main players kissing among Baroque ornaments, which vaguely looked like ears and eyes. The East-German intelligence service Stasi felt that they were targeted, and forbid the poster. One cartoon by Vonderwerth showed a fallen tree with a huge crown. An angry letter reached the editor: how dared the artist portray Karl Marx on the ground?

Der Traumzeuberbaum

Although living behind the "Iron Curtain", Klaus Vonderwerth received several prizes. He was awarded in Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Belgium and Norway, even though he wasn’t aware of his 1987 Norwegian prize until a Swiss colleague congratulated him. Apparently, the price alert had been intercepted by the Stasi. Apparently, the price alert had been intercepted by the Stasi. When the Berlin Wall went down in 1989, Vonderwerth continued his career with political cartoons in Neue Berliner Illustrierte, Die Zeit and the Süddeutsche. An entire generation of children knew him from the thirteen album covers he illustrated for the 1980s children's play 'Der Traumzeuberbaum' by Reinhard Lakomy and Monike Ehrhardt. He also contributed a comic strip for the playing cards game 'Die Kinder vom Wolkenplatz' (1988).

His work has been exhibited in Eastern and Western Europe, Canada and Japan. The artist passed away on 18 March 2016 after a long illness, at the age of 80.

Comic strip on playing cards for 'Die Kinder vom Wolkenplatz'


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