Project title
Erwin Hahs
Object description

* 27 Juli 1887 in Berlin; † 31 March 1970 in Zernsdorf
German painter and graphic artist
Erwin Hahs (real name, Erwin Hass) is a remarkable artist of Classic Modernism. After his apprenticeship, his voluntary work with César Klein and art studies with Emil Rudolf Weiß, in 1912 he exhibits his own works for the first time at the Berlin Secession. In 1914 he and the sculptor Georg Kolbe produce a mural in the vestibule of a model factory, designed by Walter Gropius, for the Cologne Werkbund exhibition. In 1918 Hahs returns from the Great War as a pacifist. In 1919 he joins both the November Group and the “Arbeitsrat für Kunst” [Workers Council for Art]. In the same year he becomes Director of Painting and Graphic Arts classes at Burg Giebichenstein Arts and Craft School in Halle. He has solo exhibitions at Halle Art Society in 1921 and 1925. Hahs is appointed to the post of Professor in 1922. Between 1929 and 1939 experimental works are created employing a unique lacquer technique. When, in 1931, the exhibition “Hass and his Circle” takes place at Halle City Hall, the press refers to a “new Halle painting style”. During the period of National Socialism Hahs is dismissed from teaching in 1933 and his artistic work is denounced as ‘degenerate’. From 1942 he teaches at “Winckelmann-Gymnasium“ in Stendal. Immediately after World War II Hahs is, for a short period, in charge of Cultural Affairs in this city. In 1946 he is reappointed to the Professorship at Burg Giebichenstein. As a consequence of the debate on Formalism in the GDR, in 1952 Erwin Hahs is compelled to take early retirement. He is a guest of honour at the first contemporary art exhibition “documenta” in Kassel in 1955. In 1956 Hahs and his family withdraw to Zernsdorf (near Berlin) where he creates a multifaceted late body of work.
His lifetime achievement is honoured in 1987 with a retrospective exhibition at Moritzburg Art Museum as well as in 2014 at Kunstforum Halle. In 2015/16 the artwork “The Great Requiem“ is shown in the exhibition “The Black Years“ at Hamburger Bahnhof, museum of contemporary art in Berlin.