* 15 January 1893 in Düsseldorf; † 11 June 1958
Curt Lahs’s paintings are rich in colour tones. The paintings embrace melodic movements as well as apparently figurative graphic images. Most of his works contain a lyrical sense of life.
In his development as an artist Curt Lahs is mostly self-taught. In 1915, he attends the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts for only a short time and, in 1916, the School of Arts and Crafts in Berlin. In his home town, in 1918, he is a founding member of the artists’ group “The Young Rhineland”, which strives for a modern art in the Rhineland and among whose members are Otto Dix, Max Ernst, Carlo Mense and Heinrich Nauen. With Hans von Marées and sculptor Fritz Claus, Lahs has an acclaimed exhibition at the Düsseldorf Gallery Flechtheim in 1919. In 1921, the Gallery “Junge Kunst – Frau Ey” [Young Art – Mrs Ey], which offers a platform to painters of the “Young Rhineland” in particular, exhibits his works in a solo show. Lahs becomes a member of the “Rhine group” in 1923.
In the 1920s the artist travels to the Netherlands, France, North Africa, Yugoslavia and Italy. After a short period as a teacher at the Düsseldorf Folk Art School, in 1928 he is appointed Director and Professor at Academia de Pintura y Escultura at Instituto de Bellas Artes in Medellín (Columbia). During his stay in Medellín, Lahs is also inspired by motifs in paintings of South American artists. In 1930 he returns to Berlin to teach at the State School of Fine Arts (today University of Arts).
After the National Socialists’ rise to power Lahs is dismissed from teaching because of his antifascist activities and his art is denounced as ‘degenerate’. He is held, without charge, in ‘protective custody’ for two months. After that he and his family live predominantly abroad – first in France, later in Yugoslavia and Italy – where he arranges exhibitions with fellow artists. At the request of the German consulate in Italy in 1942, he and his family have to leave the country. He is forced to join the Reich Labour Service and, in 1944, drafted into the Wehrmacht.
During an air raid on Berlin in 1943 all his works stored there are destroyed.After the war Lahs works as a freelance painter in Quedlinburg. He has exhibitions at the Berlin galleries, Gerd Rosen and Bremer in 1946 and 1947. The University of Halle’s Education Department offers him a teaching position in 1947. His paintings are among the exhibits at the reopened Moritzburg Museum in Halle in October 1948. Fearing repression, owing to the formalism-debate in the Soviet occupied zone, he flees to West Berlin. Here, in 1949, he takes up a position as professor at the School of Fine Arts. In the years in Berlin a colour-rich, mostly abstract body of work is created with frequent hints of figurative images.
His body of work is recognised in 1952 with the city of Düsseldorf Art Award, “Stahl und Eisen”, and in 1954 with the “Große Kunstpreis Berlin”. Lahs’s works are held in both private and public collections, in the New National Gallery Berlin, The Berlinische Gallery and the Düsseldorf City Museum among others.