Karl Hofer

* 11 10 1878 | Karlsruhe
† 03 04 1955 | Berlin

Karl Hofer is one of the great mavericks in the art of the 20th century. With only a few exceptions, he remained true to figuration throughout his life. His paintings, including portraits and nudes, masquerades and circus scenes, landscapes and still lifes, are distinguished by a classic equilibrium and a quiet, stringent beauty.


Works by Karl Hofer

Vita Karl Hofer

1878

Born in Karlsruhe.

1892–95

Commercial apprenticeship in the Müller’schen Hofbuchhaltung (Karlsruhe accounting firm). He is hired by the company as a commercial assistant.

1897–1902

Studies at the Großherzoglich Badischen Akademie der Künste (now State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe); master pupil of Hans Thoma.

1899

First stay in Paris.

1900

Second stay in Paris.

1902

Hofer begins studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart as the master pupil of Leopold von Kalckreuth.

1903

Marriage in April to the singer Mathilde Scheinberger; the couple moves to Rome.

1904

Birth of their son Karl, called Carlino.

1908

The family moves to Paris.

1910

Hofer undertakes a five-month excursion to India.

1911

Birth of their son Hansrudi.

1912

The Städel Museum in Frankfurt acquires Hofer’s painting Loth und seine Töchter (Lot and His Daughters).

1913

Another journey to India. Resettlement to Berlin; Hofer becomes a member of the “Free Secession”.

1914

The family is surprised by the outbreak of the First World War while on holiday in the coastal resort town of Ambleteuse in northern France; Hofer is interned for three years.

1919

He is released to Switzerland following the end of the war, where he takes an apartment in Zurich.

1920

Return to Germany.

1922

Hofer is called to the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (now Berlin University of the Arts) in Berlin-Charlottenburg.

1923

Member of the Prussian Academy of Arts.

1924

Participates in the International Exhibition of Paintings of the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh.

1927

Trip to the USA. Hofer founds the Badische Secession in Karlsruhe.

1928

Major exhibitions in Mannheim and Berlin on the occasion of his 50th birthday.

1929

Member of the Senate of the Prussian Academy of Arts.

1933

Discharged from office.

1934

Divorce from his wife.

1937

He is represented with nine paintings in the NS propaganda exhibition Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art). More than 300 of his works are removed from museums.

1938

Hofer is prohibited from painting, exhibiting and selling works.

1939

Marriage to model Elisabeth Schmidt.

1943

His studio in Berlin is destroyed during a bombing attack; he repaints several of the destroyed paintings.

1945

Hofer is named Director of the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin.

1952

He receives the Order Pour le mérite for Science and Arts.

1953

He receives the Great Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Berliner Kunstpreis (Berlin art Prize) on the occasion of his 75th birthday. His autobiography Erinnerungen eines Malers (A Painter’s Memories) appears.

1955

Bitter public dispute with the art historian Will Grohmann concerning the importance of non-representational art. Hofer, who represents figuration, is subject to aggressive attacks.

He dies on 3 April in Berlin following several strokes.

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