In Memoriam: Lili Cassel Wronker (1924-2019)
“When I create letters or illustrations,” said the renowned calligrapher and illustrator Lili Wronker in “Love Is a Fine Pen” a short film about her by Chhaya Bhanti and Terrence Tessaro. “I don’t deliberately analyze why, how or when. The answer comes from within, from instincts, from memory, from past knowledge. The whole process of drawing and writing, to me, is as mysterious as life itself” reports NYT.
Wronker died on Jan. 10 at a hospital in Mount Holly, N.J., near her home in Medford, her son, Eytan, said. She was 94.
A typophile par excellence and in deep love with Judaism, Wronker was a founding member of the Society of Scribes in New York. Her typographic work could be seen in "hundreds of book jackets between the 1940s and ’60s. Her love of Judaism — a reflection of her heritage more than religious passion — found artistic expression in her Hebrew calligraphy, which appeared in fine-art books and magazines. Her scholarly knowledge of the field led her to record a video about the history of the Hebrew alphabet".
Her story is amazing and in these times of bigotry it should be reminded to many. "Lili Cassel Wronker (b. Berlin, 1924) left Germany after Kristallnacht and came to the U.S. by way of London in 1940. In New York she attended the Washington Irving High School, where she was afforded the opportunity to study art for four hours a day. At fifteen, she had already read and absorbed Edward Johnston's works. After studying at the Art Students' League, she worked as assistant to calligrapher Arnold Banks, then art director of Time" notes Jewish Virtual Library.
Wronker has acknowledged that her greatest influence in the study of Hebrew calligraphy came through her friendship with Elly Gross, who introduced her to Franzisca Baruch, Jakob Steinhardt, Ismar David, Henri Friedlaender, and Emmanuel Grau when she visited Israel in 1948. This refugee of war has exceled in integrating the Hebrew and Latin alphabets throughout her life.
"Her passion for calligraphy led her to leave a note to her children about 20 years ago that outlined the lettering she wanted for her gravestone. 'This is nothing to cry about' she told them. 'I just hate ugly lettering'" reports NYT.
Read her obituary here.
All images via Wronker Family
Tags/ calligraphy, london, new york, edward johnston, jewish, new york times, calligrapher, germany, lili wronker, in memoriam, love is a fine pen, chhaya bhanti, terrence tessaro, hebrew, society of scribes, judaism, jewish virtual library, israel, washington irving high school, art students' league, kristallnacht, arnold banks, elly gross, franzisca baruch, jakob steinhardt, ismar david, henri friedlaender, emmanuel grau