One May Travel Again

“ Before (WW I) one sped with the railway into all parts of the world, without passport, without much money in the wallet, for there were money orders by wire, and a letter of credit with a foreign bank was a simple matter. All this required no particular Aktion. One made up one’s mind quickly, one snuffed through foreign cultures, hastily returned home, and probably repeated this even several times a year. Ultimately all this cost little or nothing … ”

(Max Osborn, Franz Heckendorf, in Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration: Monatshefte für moderne Malerei, Plastik, Architektur, Wohnungskunst und künstlerische Frauen-Arbeiten XXVII, January 1924, p. 177).

And all this without globalism or European Union at all, which lately reduced herself in plain view by constantly repeated Schengen mantra as evidently indeed her first and only raison d’être. Whose freedom of travel limited to herself indeed proves hollow, for today in her bread-and-butter inside is already common what Stefan Zweig lamented about for travel merely between states in post-WW I in the World of Yesterday — Memories of a European:

“ All the humiliations previously invented exclusively for villains were now imposed on every traveler before and during a travel. One had to have one’s photo taken from right and left, in profile and en face, the hair cut short so one could see the ear, one had to provide fingerprints, first only the thumb, then all ten fingers, besides had to produce reports, health certificates, vaccination certificates, police certificates, recommendations, had to present invitations and addresses of relatives, had to provide moral and financial guaranties, fill out forms and sign in triple, quadruple copy, and if only one of these three-score sheet was missing one was doomed … ”

The freedom of travel was already bygone when 1923 the painter firends Franz Heckendorf, Eugen Spiro and Ludwig Batò embarked on a study tour to Dalmatia. Yet unlike hurried pre-war (and today’s) tourists they immersed into the foreign, unfamiliar landscape, absorbed it and – Heckendorf – “rebuilt the country by himself so to speak from piled up color planes” (Max Osborn).

In defiance of all humiliations and trials of the new time more tours followed. So 1985 Horst Ludwig writes with regard to

Franz Heckendorf

Berlin 1888 – Munich 1962

generally of the “grand tours through Europe” which are reflected only partly in literature, yet in the œuvre.

Where beside sketches especially his watercolors are of ultimate local originality for – so Joachim Kirchner – “on his travels Heckendorf has only painted in watercolor and sketched and … the execution in oil happened only in the studio from memory”.

With respect to the watercolor technique here otherwise applies to Heckendorf no less than to Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976):

“ In the art of our century the watercolor has its own, still unwritten history which it owes above all to German artists; they helped it to a power unknown before by which it – also by its dimensions – manifests itself as

an autonomous species beside the painting .

To those who liberated the watercolor from its serving role of the coloring of drawings, to which it was cut down again and again in spite of Dürer’s, Turner’s, and Cézanne’s creations, Schmidt-Rottluff belongs to ”

(Gunther Thiem, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart 1969, p. 13).

Just as, it shall be repeated, the coeval Heckendorf. Following then three of his destinations.


Thieme-Becker XVI (1923), 211 f.; Vollmer II (1955), 400; AKL LXX (2011), 513 f.

Kestner-Museum Hanover, Kataloge der Sonderausstellungen XVII, 1918; Joachim Kirchner, Franz Heckendorf, 1919, & Neue Bilder von Franz Heckendorf in Biermann (ed.), Jahrbuch der jungen Kunst 1924, 190 ff.; Cicerone, vols. 1912-1928, here especially XVI (1924), 802 f.; Max Osborn, Franz Heckendorf, in Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration: Monatshefte für moderne Malerei etc., January 1924, pp. 177 ff.; Feuer II, 1 (1920/21), 195-202; Franz Heckendorf, catalog of the special exhibition Gallery Hagemeier, Frankfort/Main, 1985; Symphonie in Farbe, exhibition catalog of Kunstfreunde Bergstraße, 1991; Rainer Zimmermann, Expressiver Realismus / Malerei der verschollenen Generation, 1994, 384.

… to the Canary Islands!

Franz Heckendorf, Landscape on Tenerife

The Power of Colors and Nature

Heckendorf on Tenerife

as little known Destination of his Early Study Tours

Landscape on Tenerife. View along a rivulet spanned in the middle distance by an arched bridge into a ravine in the skyward striving, barren, rugged red brown mountains with vista at distant blue mountains below equally blue skies. The upwards sloping banks grown on both sides with palms. Watercolor over traces of black chalk. Inscribed in the latter below left: F. Heckendorf (19)25. and on the back in pencil in kurrent: Landsch. auf Tenerife. 39.9-15¾ × 19⅝ in (40.1 × 49.8 cm).

Unmentioned by literature, albeit documented here by the large-sized painting Spanish Landscape (with town) of the same year – only Horst Ludwig writes in the catalog Hagemeier more generally of the “grand tours through Europe” –

Heckendorf’s tour to Spain and the Canary Islands

in the interior of which he encountered a landscape not unlike Dalmatia and the Balkans, of which still today the cruise and package tourist has no idea, as conversely the hiker immerging into the ravines with their partly perennial rivulets must think of today’s large concrete tourist developments as belonging to another, unreal world.

The barren mountains here meeting along the banks of the rivulet leading into the depth the “play of colors of the luscious southern flora with palms, cypresses, and high agave forbs” already cited by Kirchner, at the same time reminding “that on his tour(s) Heckendorf has only painted in watercolors and sketched, and that the execution in oil only followed in the studio from memory”. Thus his watercolors are of ultimate local originality.

Albeit in its pictorial dramatics not comparable, the basics of the composition are to be found, too, in the watercolor Trees created three years later as described by Horst Ludwig:

“ Although (sic!) watercolors, Heckendorf’s style yet becomes apparent. In the work ‘Trees’ he shows a path leading into the depth of the picture, with trees standing to the left and right. Here for the painter it is neither about the detail nor the naturalistic likeness: rather the natural scene is used as a chance to create an autonomous pictorial world which emphasizes the characteristics of the model while others are neglected. Important to him are the dark trunks which create deep spatiality and greatly rhythmize the plane. Contrasting with these compact, solid forms the soil formations and the foliage which are structured flat … Not the material character of the objects, the structure of the trees are to be rendered, but the confrontation of blue-green planes with dark brown straight lines. Nonetheless by this an effect of nature is conveyed which structurally corresponds with the seen part of the terrain, without imitating it slavishly ”

(Horst Ludwig, Aspekte zu Leben und Werk von Franz Heckendorf, in catalog Hagemeier, pp. 4 f.).

Where in the present case the depth effect is especially emphasized by the palm leaning from front right into the center of the picture. But also in aforementioned Spanish Landscape from 1925 the view goes through the gorge parting the town into the depth towards the mountains rising in the background.

With the complete dispense with the frequently – but likewise not in the Spanish Landscape – encountered narrative, yet faceless figuration besides sheer nature, in which only the bridge suggests the presence on man.

Marvelously vividly colored work

with the proverbial “bold, shining local colors” on grained sturdy watercolor paper (verso browned) from the for Heckendorf so determining group of the mountainous southern landscape, based on the “study stay(s) in … Italy, Dalmatia and Asia Minor … Applies himself beside oil painting also to pastel and watercolor … The most mature Heckendorf has created so far (1923) are his landscapes“ (Vollmer in Thieme-Becker and Vollmer resp.).

And Max Osborn especially on the preceding Dalmatia tour 1923 with painter friends Eugen Spiro and Ludwig Batò:

“ They wanted ‘to take into hand’ that colorful and shining world where Italy and the Balkans, antiquity and Orient meet … Heckendorf yet, the youngest, grown up in the Berlin expressionist air, takes the unfamiliar sensation of the foreign nature to rebuild the country by himself so to speak from piling up color planes … The whole nature is great form here indeed. Mighty, Olympic, the royal lines of the mountains rise to the skies, then slope back to earth again with great gesture – these rock massifs whose majestic contours are not broken by the scrubby crowns of deciduous and fir woods … Like a merry young god, Heckendorf’s unspent, bawdy, fresh vitality played with these welcome motifs, and the brightness of southern days, the purity of the air on the coast and in the mountains, the fantastic variety of colors in clouded days all at once impregnated his palette … ”

(Max Osborn, op. cit., p. 180).

“ (Heckendorf) found a new style which by strict dispense with all purely imitative intentions aimed ‘to spiritualize everything optically perceptible and translate it into the sphere of the visionarily seen’; that stood for the

accomplishment of the program of modern expressionism ,

of which H. is one of the most persuasive evangelists … ”

(Vollmer 1923). And continuing in 1953:

“ Pupil of the instruction class of the Berlin Museum of Applied Arts and the Academy, but essentially autodidact (just as the contemporaries Heckel & E. L. Kirchner and like these starting from impressionism). One of the most talented exponents of the young generation of German artists … Coping with all techniques and an exceedingly easily producing talent … besides oil painting H. applies himself to pastel, watercolor, and lithography … ”

(Vollmer). With characteristic shining out of itself as in turn reflection of, exactly, the “visionarily seen”. So then also most strikingly put into a nutshell – adopting Kirchner almost verbatim – by Rainer Zimmermann in the catalog of Kunstfreunde Bergstraße:

“ The process of spiritualization, which the artist creates by the color but also by rhythm and line, is to be perceived doubtlessly most easily in his landscapes.

By the selection of the colors the whole passionate verve

of his exuberant temperament finds its highest satisfaction .

Visionary light effects complete the charm.

His colors glow , jerk , and flash

or are full of dark melancholia ”

(op. cit., p. 11; spacing & centering not in the original).

“ The leading role (Heckendorf) took already at the beginning of his career among the colleagues of the same age remained with him, and it supposedly means a general acknowledgement of his skill when this year he was represented

along with the most eminent names of the world of German painters

with several works on the international art exhibition in Rome ”

(Joachim Kirchner in Jahrbuch der jungen Kunst 1924, p. 190). Here then, just one year later, from almost unknown study tour

from the interior of Tenerife as till today reserved for individualists & connoisseurs .

Offer no. 29,126 | price on application

… to the Adriatic!

Franz Heckendorf, Mediterranean Landscape

Mediterranean Landscape. Charming little town on the coast with lots of bays on the foot of a mountain ridge. Front right dominating djami (kullijet) with pointed, very slender tower as typical for the Turkish minarets, rising above and into the mountains, along with sherifs running around for the muezzins, as generally the whole arrangement of the mosque, comprising a tower-like further building and ascending over the town, is grasped pictorially beautifully. Further boats & faceless figurines, among these mule rider. Watercolor over pencil. Inscribed with the latter lower right: Franz Heckendorf (19)39. 15⅝ × 19⅛ in (39.7 × 48.7 cm).

Marvelously color-fresh work

with the proverbial “strong, shining local colors” from the for Heckendorf that determining group of the mountainous southern landscape, based on the “study stays in … Italy, Dalmatia and Asia Minor … Applies himself beside oil painting also to pastel and watercolor … The most mature Heckendorf has created so far (1923) are his landscapes … especially, however, the landscapes he had the occasion to paint during World War (I) as combat pilot at the eastern front,

on the Balkans , by the Bosporus and by the Tigris ”

(Vollmer in Thieme-Becker and in Vollmer resp.).

The figuration, as frequently with him, subordinated intentionally-visibly by (non)faces devoid of contours. Generations later Peter Bürger will speak with regard to Kirchner’s street figures

of “lineaments simplified like masks”

as expression of “a general unrelatedness”

(Saunters overstretch the Town … Kirchner and the Mannerism in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung July 23, 2001). But already Hogarth made use of this stylistic method of in the end Biblical origin by way of “Times I” (1762) in the person of Lord Temple, that is not to make a picture, just as likewise the children of orthodox Mennonites play with faceless puppets.

Offer no. 14,776 | price on application

Franz Heckendorf, Ships in the Harbor (Trieste)

Ships in the Harbor (Trieste?). Three sailing boats of various size before and between two steamships. On the pier in front three boatmen figurines. In the background indicated mountain ridge. Pencil and color pastel on light drawing paper. Inscribed lower left: F. H. (19)41. 5⅜ × 8⅝ in (138 × 220 mm).

Charming sheet-filling sketch in rich stroke and delicate colors

of the tightly staggered, dominating ships in the harbor as snapshot done on the spot during his repeated journeys to Italy and the Middle East. Picked up and realized in large format in rich tempera eight years later with the addition of a pier on the left and houses at the rearward quay and dramatic accentuation of the here just succinctly suggested mountain scenery as for Heckendorf so decisive an element of the southern landscape. Cf. the tempera painting of the same name from 1949 here.

Harbor views and landscapes resp. occur throughout Heckendorf’s œuvre. So for instance more recently on the market the atmospheric watercolor from 1927 Harbor of Marseilles and the Harbor in Southern France from a sketchbook of 1944. Or the large-sized painting Industrial Port in the 1985 exhibition Hagemeier from 1952. From the same year also the watercolor Southern Harbor Landscape picking up again the steamship here.

“ What the north could not present of color impressions to this painter of the sun, the Adriatic coast provided to him to the full extent … Also … the harbors with the boats moored at the jetties, the lines of houses glittering in the light … On this occasion it should not go unmentioned that Heckendorf only painted in watercolors and sketched on his travel and that the execution in oil only ensued in the study from memory ”

(Kirchner 1924).

On the back of the painting of 1949 fragment of an old gummed label with typewritten designation “HAFEN VON T(?)..E(?)S.”. – Mounted remarkably unprofessionally by a previous owner with centered adhesive tape onto the paper inlay of a photo frame. – At the left margin brown spot/stripe extending scantly 4 cm into the subject, practically not impairing the image, the left lower corner besides with completely smoothed pleat slightly finger-stained on the verso.

Offer no. 29,039 | EUR 980. | export price EUR 931. (c. US$ 1125.) + shipping

… if not Ascona
Franz Heckendorf, Lugano (Garden Café)
then maybe Lugano?

Lugano. Garden café by the lakeside, dominated by detached open pergola whose dark pole wood represents the “dark trunks (important to him) which create deep spatiality and highly rhythmize the space” (Horst Ludwig) with the figuration, as usual, intentionally-visibly subordinated by (non) faces devoid of contours. Watercolor and gouache over black chalk. Inscribed lower right in pencil: F. Heckendorf / (19)56 / Logano (sic!, over first Ascona, of whose lake promenade an also formatwise similar work of the same year exists). 14⅛ × 18⅞ in (35.8 × 47.8 cm).

Cf. the same scenery seen from a different angle of the painting listed as Garden Café 1956 (fiberboard, 31½ × 23⅝ in [80 × 60 cm], inscribed lower left: F. Heckendorf 56) of the color cover illustration of the 1985 Hagemeier catalog as well as the further oil Garden Café of the same year there (pp. 40 f.) together with a not dated chalk drawing pp. 22 f. With respect to its opposite elevations further an oil of 1921 listed as Bustling Harbor Bay (wood, 10⅝ × 12¾ in [27 × 32.5 cm], inscribed lower left: F. Heckendorf. 21.) and a watercolor Bathers in Southern Landscape of 1951 (19¾ × 25⅜ in [50 × 64.5 cm], inscribed lower left F. Heckendorf 51) as on the market in the 1990s could be referred to.

On slightly grained beige thin watercolor board. – Upper edge on the subject side with ignorable remaining traces of adhesive from previous framing, otherwise excellent.

Marvelously color-fresh work

with the proverbial

“ strong , shining local colors. ”

Here then, moreover, ravishingly beautiful :

“Lugano” — in its “wonderful situation on Lake Lugano”

(Meyers Konversations-Lexicon, 4th ed., X [1889], 996).

Offer no. 15,618 | price on application

“ Thank you so much for your courtesy in keeping my request in mind. I hope that we can do business once day. With all the best wishes for the Christmas and holiday season to you ”

(Mr. S. V., December 7, 2009)