“ Visionary  Light  Effects  complete  the  Charm ”

Franz Heckendorf (Berlin 1888 – Munich 1962). Lugano. Garden café by the lakeside, dominated by detached open pergola whose dark pole wood stands for the “dark trunks (important to him) which create deep spatiality and highly rhythmize the space” (Horst Ludwig). 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).


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

Kestner Museum Hanover, (Catalogs of Special Exhibitions) 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 particularly XVI (1924), 802 f.; Feuer II, 1 (1920/21), 195-202; Franz Heckendorf, Catalog of the Special Exhibition Gallery Hagemeier, Frankfort/Main, 1985; (Symphony in Color), exhibition catalog of Kunstfreunde Bergstraße, 1991; Rainer Zimmermann, (Expressive Realism / Paintings of the Lost Generation), 1994, 384.

Gisela Hauss (ed.), (Migration, Flight, and Exile as Reflected by Social Work), 2010, 192 f.; Winfried Meyer, (Nazi Justice against Jew Helpers: “Destruction by Work” instead of Death Penalty. The Judgement of the Special Court Freiburg im Breisgau against the Berlin Painter Franz Heckendorf and its Execution). In: Wolfgang Benz (ed.), (Almanac for Anti-Semitism Research) XIX, 2010, 331-362.

See also 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

Franz Heckendorf, Lugano

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 … ”

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

The figuration, as frequently with him, subordinated intentionally-visibly by (non)faces devoid of contours. For

“ ‘to spiritualize everything which is optically visible and translate it into the sphere of the visionarily seen’; that meant

the  accomplishment  of  the  program  of  modern  expressionism ,

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

(Vollmer 1923).

Generations later Peter Bürger shall talk with reference 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.

“ 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., page 11; spacing & centering not in the original).

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

“ 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 may be repeated, the coeval Heckendorf.

In dark years ostracized like his kind, Heckendorf was imposed with an exhibition ban at the very beginning, followed 1937 by removal/sale/burning of the works in the National Gallery and in Berlin public property, 1940 the expulsion from the Reichskammer der Bildenden Künste and 1943 finally by even completely different, profoundly personal hardship, ultimately grown from the zodiac sign of the Scorpio Heckendorf:

“ A further rescuing network of refugee smuggling emerged around the art painter and proprietor of a gallery, Franz Heckendorf … in Berlin. He had many Jewish acquaintances to whom he again and again suggested to leave Germany … False identity cards were made and escape routes (to Switzerland) prepared … (and tested) in the disguise of ramblers … The first refugees were Kurt and Hilda Schüler from Berlin. Approximately further 20 to 80 persons followed … In February 1943 this refugee smuggling network was busted after Heckendorf … (was presumably set up). Four of the refugee smugglers were sentenced to penal servitude and high fines by the Special Court Freiburg (Breisgau) … ”

(Hauss, op. cit.).

With 10 years Heckendorf was sentenced the maximum penalty, by which an obviously sympathetic court, shifting actual responsibility to foreign Jewish wire-pullers, thwarted the death penalty requested by the public prosecutor. Just as then in the course of the jail stations good people, not self-proclaimed “do-gooders”, helped when the physical strength were on the verge of ruin. Right to the end ultimately even concentration camp Mauthausen.

The way back was paved by professorship at the Vienna Academy and teaching in Salzburg. From 1950 then settled down in Munich. And leaving behind an œuvre in which, even though not yet again ex cathedra, the connoisseur is promised what had been certainty 90 years before :

“ The leading role (Heckendorf) took already at the beginning of his career among the same-aged colleagues 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, page 190).

Here then, moreover, ravishingly beautiful :

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

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

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