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Gallery Text

In an age of new technologies such as film and photography, Hoerle and his close contemporaries, known as the Cologne Progressives, remained committed to the medium of painting as a means to unite artistic form with radical left-wing politics. Their work challenged the notion of the subjective, expressionist brushstroke by embedding it in a strict compositional structure. Hoerle meticulously painted Worker on a horizontal plane, laying the surface flat on a table. Questioning the privileged status of the individual artwork, he conceived the painting as part of a larger numbered series. His aim was to combine multiple painterly concepts into murals — larger, public formats he found more suitable for collective experience. Understanding the role of the artist as vital in the establishment of a new society, in this self-portrait he divides his surroundings and himself into two distinct realms: industry and agriculture. The artist, spanning both, embodies the utopian vision of a classless society, thought achievable only by the combined efforts of industrial workers and farmers.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
2005.17
People
Heinrich Hoerle, German (Cologne, Germany 1895 - 1936 Cologne, Germany)
Title
Worker (Self-Portrait in Front of Trees and Chimneys)
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Arbeiter (Selbstbildnis vor Bäumen und Schornsteinen)
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
1931
Culture
German
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/20969
Location
Level 1, Room 1520, Modern and Contemporary Art, Art in Germany Between the Wars
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on paper, mounted to board
Dimensions
62 x 49 cm (24 7/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
framed: 83.3 x 70.2 x 5 cm (32 13/16 x 27 5/8 x 1 15/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: Monogrammed, dated, numbered at u.l.: 19 h 31 / 1
Provenance
The artist, sold?; to Hans Schmitt-Rost, Cologne, 1931, sold; to Siegfried Poppe, Hamburg, 1950, bequest; to Gesche Poppe, 1992, sold?; [Galerie Brockstedt, Hamburg], 2004, sold; to Busch-Reisinger Museum, 2005.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Purchase through the generosity of the Acquisitions Committee of the Friends of the Busch-Reisinger Museum; purchase in memory of Eda K. Loeb; Richard Norton Memorial Fund; Louise Haskell Daly Fund; Benjamin and Lilian Hertzberg Purchase Fund
Accession Year
2005
Object Number
2005.17
Division
Modern and Contemporary Art
Contact
am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Hans Schmitt-Rost, Heinrich Hoerle, Aurel Bongers (Recklinghausen, 1965), p. 13, p. 25, p. 52 (col. ill.)

Wieland Schmied, Neue Sachlichkeit und Magischer Realismus in Deutschland, 1918-1933, Fackeltrager-Verlag (Hannover, 1969), p. 60

Neue Sachlichkeit and German Realism of the Twenties, exh. cat., Arts Council of Great Britain, London ([London], 1978), cat. no. 147, p. 41 (col. ill.)

Louise Lincoln, ed., German Realism of the Twenties: The Artist as Social Critic, exh. cat., Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis, 1980), cat. no. 89, ill.

Heinrich Hoerle: Leben und Werk, 1895-1936, exh. cat., Rheinland Verlag (Cologne, 1981), Cover (col. ill.), p. 42 , p. 181

Der kuehle Blick: Realismus der Zwanzigerjahre in Europa und Amerika, exh. cat., Prestel (Munich, 2001), p. 190, col. illus.

Die zweite Schoepfung. Bilder der industriellen Welt vom 18. Jahrhundert bis in die Gegenwart, exh. cat., Editon Minerva (Berlin, 2002), cat.no. 114, p. 276, col. ill.

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 112

Lynette Roth, Painting as a Weapon: Progressive Cologne 1920-33 Seiwert - Hoerle - Arntz, exh. cat., Buchhandlung Walther König (Cologne, 2008), p. 31, fig. 25, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

köln progressiv 1920-33: Seiwert - Hoerle - Arntz, Museum Ludwig, Köln, 03/15/2008 - 06/15/2008

32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 12/10/2018; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/15/2018 - 08/05/2019; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/05/2019 - 01/01/2050

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu