from the New Directions email newsletter March 2003


Heinz Henghes carved the centaurlike figure that became the book colophon for New Directions Publishing. A sculptor "wit a vo-ice dot woult / meldt dh heart offa schtone" (Canto XXXV, Pound), Henghes ran away from home to the U.S. while still in his teens and in the early 1930s walked from Hamburg to Rapallo where he stayed with Pound. At the bottom of this email is a photograph of Henghes in his studio at Via Borjonuovo 7, Milano in November 1936. Beside him is what looks like a chalk drawing on slate of the ND colophon, which also exists as a marble sculpture in the collection of the Agnelli family (of Fiat fame). About Henghes, The Times (London) obit wrote, "In him, European sculpture has lost a versatile artist and an endearing, eccentric character."

New Directions would like to thank Heinz Henghes son, Ian Henghes, for sending us the photograph. A note he has about the colophon reads something like: "'Drawing' Colophon of the New Directions Press. Owner Rene (Renato) Wild Milano & Como. 1935. 60X75cm. Clichee made of copy." He and friends of Heinz Henghes maintain a beautiful website where further biographical information and numerous images of H. Henghes' artwork can be found (http://www.henghes.org). If anyone has any information or questions on the works of Heinz Henghes, please write to info@henghes.org. Below are two excerpts that mention H. Henghes and the ND colophon: one written by James Laughlin, the other by Ezra Pound in a letter to James Laughlin. JL also published an "In memoriam" of Heinz Henghes in New Directions Anthology #33.

from POUND AS WUZ, by James Laughlin (Graywolf Press, 1997):

"One day when I was in Rapallo, a bedraggled figure with his feet bleeding turned up on Ezra's doorstep. In Hamburg he had heard that Ezra had some sculptures by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, a friend of Pound's from the London days. Henghes wanted to see them and get advice from Ezra about his own work. He had no money, so he had walked most of the way from Germany. In the mountains he had picked up in a stream bed some small pieces of soft slate and then carved them with his pocketknife. The minute Ezra saw these pieces he knew Henghes was good and wanted to help him, as he had helped artists and writers all his life. There was no extra bed in the apartment, so he put Henghes up in the large dog kennel on the terrace. He fed him and, as soon as Henghes was rested up a bit, took him over to the local stonecutter, the man who carved gravestones. Pound said, "I will stand good for a piece of stone for this man and you lend him some tools." Henghes went to work carving the striking figure of a centaur, which later became the model for the New Directions book colophon. People do say from time to time that it is a sitting-down horse, but why shouldn't a centaur rest? Then Ezra went up to Turin with a photograph of the statue to show to the wife of the head of the Fiat Company, Signora Agnelli. He convinced her that Henghes had genius and she bought the statues for a good price."

Extract from a letter by Ezra Pound to James Laughlin May 17, 1934 (from SELECTED LETTERS of Ezra Pound and James Laughlin, published by W.W. Norton):

"Heinz prepared to supply seals, style of that used herewith for 100 lire, up till Jan. 1st. an. prox. after which the price will rise.

Whether he is going to prog/into a medalist I dunno. He's working toward a town pump at the momeng." (sic)

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