* May 5, 1877 in Cuxhaven; † June 23, 1955 in Hamburg
Architect, painter, graphic artist and sculptor
Emil Maetzel and his wife, the painter Dorothea Maetzel-Johannsen, were among the founding members of the Hamburg Secession in 1919 and played a major role in establishing modernism in the art of the Hanseatic city. From 1928 to 1932 Maetzel led the reestablished Secession as chairman and from 1948 as second chairman.
Maetzel's artistic models were the painters and graphic artists of the Brücke. In his work, he adhered to representational art even in the high times of abstraction and Informel. For his still lifes from the 1950s he chose simple household things, wooden figures, fruits and shells. He reduced the subject matter to elementary forms and brought them together in a strict pictorial structure - as was particularly appropriate for him as an architect. Unlike in his early years, after 1945 he no longer applied the colors in a modeling manner, but rather two-dimensionally.
After the emotional upheaval caused by the early death of his wife in 1930, Maetzel experienced two further painful caesuras in 1933: under pressure from the Nazi regime, he was forced to retire, and the Hamburg Secession dissolved itself because it rejected the Nazis' request to expel its Jewish members. Although the Hildebrand Gurlitt Gallery organized a show of Maetzel's work in 1937 to mark his 60th birthday, five of his prints were also removed from the Kunsthalle Hamburg in the same year as "degenerate art". From 1939 to 1943 Maetzel taught at the Schmilinsky art school. From 1945 he was able to work freely again and to participate in exhibitions. By 1955 he had created more than 300 paintings, which, despite their formal austerity, radiate a life-affirming friendliness. In 1958, the Kunstverein Hamburg dedicated an exhibition to the artist couple. In 2019/20, works by both artists are included in the show "100 Years of the Hamburg Secession" at the Hamburger Kunsthalle. His works are in numerous collections.