Bernhard Hoetger

Bernhard Hoetger, born in 1874 in Dortmund, Germany, was a prolific artist whose style was fed by many sources. His audacious oeuvre consists of works in sculpture, architectural design, paintings, graphic art and handicrafts. The son of a Dortmund blacksmith, he studied sculpture and stone masonry in Detmold. He worked as technical director of a workshop for church furnishings in Wiedenbrück from 1895-1897. He studied at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf from 1897-1900. Upon finishing his studies, he traveled to Paris for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 and decided to stay. He worked as a sculptor and became immensely inspired by the work of Auguste Rodin. The strong influence of Rodin and the Impressionists was evident in his small scale figurative sculptures until about 1905, when he exhibited at the Salon d'Automne, which brought him into contact with the work of sculptor Aristide Maillol. This inspired a remarkable stylistic shift. With this second phase of work Hoetger turned to the expressionistic, monumental, tectonic and archaic, with elements of ancient Romanesque and Gothic art.

Hoetger was invited to become a member of the Darmstädter Künstlerkolonie in 1911, by which time he was already a renowned sculptor. At the end of 1911 he traveled to Florence where he worked intensively in figurative sculptures in glazed majolica. His majolica series was exhibited at the Mathildenhöhe Exposition of 1914.

He then settled in Worpswede where he was commissioned to create sculptures and architectural designs for factory owner Hermann Bahlsen. Hoetger also found a patron in Ludwig Roselius, a Bremen-based coffee trader who commissioned him to oversee a unique architectural project, the redesign of Bremen's Böttcherstraße. Hoetger took a Gesamtkunstwerk approach and helped Roselius to realize his vision of a consciously planned, designed and built Böttcherstraße.

Hoetger moved to Berlin in 1936. Hitler declared his work to be degenerate art, his sculptures were seized and removed from museums. He fled from Berlin in 1943, later settling in Beatenberg, Switzerland where he died in 1949.

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