1921  Symphony  in  Green & Blue

from  the  Group  of  “Houses  in  the  Park”

Franz Heckendorf (Berlin 1888 – Munich 1962). House in the Park with Couple. Two-storied villa with attic in the saddleback situated picturesquely in the warm sun behind staffage of trees and bushes with ramified paths. Left-sided steps leading to the house’s entrance with a wintergarden set before. Coming in the direction of the beholder a couple. Oil on canvas. 1921. Inscribed lower right:

F. Heckendorf (19)21.
F. Heckendorf (19)21.

23⅝ × 27¾ in (60 × 70.5 cm). In 3-piece wooden frame painted grey and black in replication of such one of a further Heckendorf here worked presumably by the artist himself.


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.

Heckendorfshining  main  work

in dominating deep green before an equally blue sky

with the roof of the house kept in Terra di Siena whose light ochre front side corresponds with the meandering path. From the group of Houses in the Park documented here for the years 1919-1928, close to, besides others, E. L. Kirchner’s chronologically previous paintings House below Trees / Fehmarn of 1912 (figured in Berlin in 1917 in the exhibition of the Free Secession), Staberhof Farm / Fehmarn of 1913, Villas in Königstein / Taunus, 1915/16, Villa Portius, Dresden (watercolor over pencil), Mountain Wood with Cabins (pen + brush about 1918). Applicable also the woodcut Weather Firs (1919) with its heavy green-blue and the ochre colored paths with their small figures typical for Kirchner and expressionism otherwise, too, just as the couple here with Heckendorf, whose intense colors here also determine i. a. Holy Family on the Flight of the same year.

Heckendorf’s  own  Villa-Park  complex

Franz Heckendorf, House in the Park with Couple (1921)

documentable  here

with 1919 (oil, 39⅜ × 31½ in [100 × 80 cm]) whose line of slender trees flanking the path to the house interrupted by four steps we meet again in 1928 – 1921 (the present oil) – 1922 (pastel, 26 × 18½ in [66 × 47 cm]) – 1923 (supposedly oil; ill. in Jahrbuch der jungen Kunst 1924, page 191) –

Franz Heckendorf, House in the Park. 1923
Franz Heckendorf, House in the Park. 1923. (ill. Jahrbuch der jungen Kunst 1924)

1925 (watercolor & tempera, 11⅝ × 11¼ in [29.5 × 28.5 cm]; again with tight leafy trees as foreground and the façade in light ochre) – the undated Half-timbered House in the Park (oil, 14¾ × 19¼ in [37.5 × 49 cm]) – the undated Three Women in the Garden before a Villa (oil, 10¾ × 17¾ in [35 × 45 cm]). Supplementarily, without house, the watercolor Trees (16⅛ × 12¼ in [41 × 31 cm]) of 1928 with the ochre colored path lined by the already mentioned slender trees and whose play of lights and shades quotes that of the painting of 1921 here though reminds in its formality altogether as impressionistic reminiscence of pictures by Manet, e. g. his Landscape in Rueil of 1882 in the Munich exhibition of 1997 Manet bis van Gogh — Hugo von Tschudi und der Kampf um die Moderne (no. 21 & pp. 84 f. of the catalog). – All independence aside it seems possible that Heckendorf varied the same object in each case.

In such a way the work here the probably second earliest and, if so, together with the one of 1923

the  most  beautiful & accomplished

of  this  intimate–quiet  group  of  works ,

exemplary beyond Heckendorf for the landscape in the painting of expressionism in general.

Jawlensky’s programmatic

“ to  translate  nature  into  colors

correspondingly  to  my  glowing  soul ”

stands implicitly also above the Heckendorf here .

In which figures, so arising, are subordinated consciously-visibly by (non)faces devoid of contours as widely typical for him and as here, too. For

“ ‘to spiritualize everything that 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 speak

with  reference  to  Kirchner’s  street  figures

of  “lineaments  simplified  like  masks”

Franz Heckendorf, Faceless couple in House in the Park (1921)

as  expression  of  “a  general  unrelatedness”

(Saunters overstretch the Town … Kirchner and the Mannerism in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 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 Acad., but essentially autodidact (as the contemporaries Heckel + E. L. Kirchner, too, and like these starting from impressionism). One of the most talented exponents of the young generation of German artists, whose personal style found its most mature expression till now in his landscapes filled

by  an  enormous  dynamic  of  pictorial  execution

and carried by a strong inwardness of perception. Already as a 20-year-old he exhibited (1909) 2 Street Scenes at the Berlin Secession which were still influenced by the impression of the impressionist way to paint … Coping with all techniques and an exceedingly easily producing talent … H(eckendorf) applies himself besides oil painting to pastel, watercolor, and lithography … ”

(Vollmer continuing ibid.).

Franz Heckendorf, House in the Park, back
The back

And in contemporary time again Horst Ludwig in Catalog Hagemeier in view of a 1958 Southern Landscape with Sailing-Boats discourses on the “tendency of overheightened nature” :

“ Here also (just as it was) the claim to describe purely and barely what urged the artist to his work as already raised in the program of the ‘Bridge Artists’ in 1906 becomes recognizable: the own vision that first linked itself to the landscape though not following it purely imitatively.

With (once more just as it was) passionate brushstrokes that remain visible as such and are used artistically, with impastoed color application so that a vivid surface of the painting appears the southern painting is visualized … The colors themselves are also set harshly against each other, almost purely toned they are applied with a comparatively thick brush and remain linked with the trace of it so that the composition clearly consists of these stroke positions. ”

And quoting Joachim Kirchner (1919) on the line

“ ‘The line as the nerve of the composition, as the very own writing of the will carried by a powerful spirituality might be rated as the most singular of Heckendorf’s expressionism. As brutal and harsh the language of his lineation often seems to be, so always it is full of soul, its strong impulse reveals the inner tension, the restrained excitement by which the artist works at the intellectual penetration of the object. As sustainer of the whole rhythm of the picture is finally gets an important function in the structure of the complete image.’

Overlooking Heckendorf’s creation from several decades the vehemence by which he developed his own pictorial language, emanating from the art of the turn of the century and … kept is astonishing. For Heckendorf the object always remained priority though formally heightened and coloristically alienated. ”

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



1921  Symphony  in  Green & Blue

Franz Heckendorf, House in the Park framed

from  the  group  of  the  “Houses  in  the  Park” .

Offer no. 28,823 / price on application