Keimzelle Erlangen. In the centre of his work is the close relationship between form, colour and space to people and society. The exhibition assembles a retrospective overview of Hajek's works - amongst others paintings and sculptures, which can be seen in the basement of the Kunstpalais - together with numerous urban construction plans painted by the artist, including design proposals for public places which were not realised.
Curator of the exhibition: Claudia Emmert
Otto Herbert Hajek was born in Kaltenbach in the Bohemian Forest on the 27th of June 1927 and was enlisted for military service at the age of 17. His family was expelled from their home after the war. Otto Herbert Hajek arrived in Erlangen alone in 1946, after having passed Lauf an der Pegnitz. The 19 year old Hajek visited a college in Erlangen until 1947, which is called Ohm-Gymnasium today. He gained some money by producing carvings – for example wooden chess pieces. He could do his homework and the carvings in a local pub which was located in the painter Otto Graus ́s birthplace and could be found in the Obere Karlstraße 22. There Hajek sometimes even got food without having a meal voucher, some- thing he remembered for his lifetime.
The relevance of Erlangen for Hajek – for his life and work – was especially stressed in a speech which was held by Josef Schmoll, named “Eisenwerth”, a notable expert in fine arts from Munich: “The city – which was untroubled by war destructions – offered the image of a special urban order, with its historic centre, which made a big impression on the adolescent artist. (...) Especially the constructivist element of his mature art was probably stimulated by the sensual perception of the chess- and lattice structure of the urbanistic composition of the Huguenot, university and residence town.”
In 1947 the artist left Erlangen and went to Stuttgart where he attended the academy of arts and where he lived until his death in 2005. He took part in the Venice Biennale in 1958 and the documenta in Kassel in 1959 and 1964. From 1972 until 1979 he served as the chairman of the Deutsche Künstlerbund, an institution which currently unites over 500 visual artists. In this position he played an influential cultural political role: he represented the German art scene at numerous official delegation’s journeys and got actively involved with the East-West cultural dialogue and the North-South cultural dialogue of the Federal Republic of Germany. Furthermore, he campaigned for a cross-border cultural communication in line with the Conferences on Security and Co-Operation in Europe.
In 1987 the Germanische Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg honoured Hajek with a great work exhibition – on the occasion of the transfer of his literary estate to the museum.
In the centre of Hajek's work is the close relationship between form, colour and space to people and society. It was his concern to place art in an intensive and ever-changing discourse to the environment. "Zeichen setzen – Zeichen für Menschen" (To make a statement – statements for people) reads his pleading for the basic right of people for an esthetical constitution of their environment. He perceived space as a human context which should be experienced as a designable periphery through his art.
For the first time, the Kunstpalais Erlangen assembles a retrospective overview of Hajek's works – amongst others paintings and sculptures, which can be seen in the basement of the Kunstpalais – together with numerous urban construction plans painted by the artist – including design proposals for public places which were not realised.
For Hajek, urban spaces did not only articulate the consequences of social conditions but were also the cause of those structures. The city as the activator, as the protagonist of social structuring. With the intervention into the urban space, with his colourful designs Hajek wants to show the people “dass er sich darin aufhalten und sich nachbarschaftlich verhalten kann.” (that he can linger in it and that he can behave neighbourly). Furthermore, his designs of public places can be understood as contributions to the democratisation of art, with optimal reception- and participation conditions.
For this reason we dedicated the whole first floor of the exhibition to the topic of space designs. They begin chronologically in the back room with the Frankfurter Frühling from 1964, one of the first environments in art history, followed by a blueprint for Hannover – which was not realised – and designs of public places in Karlsruhe, in Schwelm and Düsseldorf. The first floor concludes with the artist’s biggest public place design in Adelaide, Australia, which was opened up by Queen Elizabeth, and the all-embracing and unique formation of the Mineralbad Leuze in Stuttgart into a Gesamtkunstwerk.
Finally, the artist’s high school diploma, a letter from his drawing teacher, numerous photos from Hajek ́s life and a film about his producing as an internationally active artist are displayed in the last exhibition room.
Ina Neddermeyer firstname.lastname@example.org
Ilse Wittmann Tel: +49 (0) 91 31/86-27 35 Fax: +49 (0) 91 31/86-21 17 E-Mail: email@example.com
Opening Thursday, 19th of January 2012, 6 p.m.
Kunstpalais Stadt Erlangen
Palais Stutterheim Marktplatz 1 91054 Erlangen
Tue -Sun 10 a.m. -6 p.m.
Wed 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
entrance: 4 €, reduce 2 €