Horst Janssen would have been 80 years old on November 14, 2009. To mark this anniversary, the Hamburger Kunsthalle
and the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg are presenting parallel exhibitions in honor of the outstanding draughtsman and printmaker. At the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the exhibition "Horst Janssen: The Art of Friendship" focuses on Janssens enduring, warmly supportive and occasionally stormy friendships with two of his collectors. A selection of more than 80 works from the collections of Klaus Hegewisch, who celebrates his 90th birthday this year, and Gerhard Schack, who would also have turned 80 in 2009, reflect the ups and downs of these relationships. The exhibits include master drawings, watercolors, woodcuts, collages and etchings by Janssen, along with a number of intimate portraits, humorously illustrated letters and sketches some of which have never been shown before that he made during their get-togethers or phone conversations.
The works on show date from the early stages of Janssens career, from 1947 until the late 1970s. The exhibition therefore covers the period in which Janssen was awarded the first prize for graphic art at the Venice Biennale in 1968 and became one of the leading draughtsmen of the 20th-century. His art collector friends Hegewisch and Schack inspired and encouraged him to explore new artistic themes and perspectives, and their lively, often heated discussions always spurred him on. The exhibition reveals the particular focus of each collection; documents the stylistic development within Horst Janssens oeuvre, and examines the relationship between Janssen and his friends.
The Hamburg merchant Klaus Hegewisch, who discovered the early talent of the future draughtsman and graphic artist at the State Art School (Landeskunstschule) in the 1950s, and continued to support and advise him for more than two decades, was one of the first of Janssens collectors to become a close friend. The works from his extensive collection are being presented in the Hegewisch-Kabinett. They include color woodcuts from the 1950s, master drawings and etchings from the 1960s, as well as some little-known early works. Janssens designs for a peanut advertisement (1950s) will be shown here for the first time. Hegewisch, who besides being an art collector was an importer of tropical fruit, arranged this commission to help out the young artist. Another highlight is the color woodcut Eulen from 1957, presented alongside the woodblock Janssen used to print it, which is carved on both sides. Rounding off the display is a selection of private documents and other material.
Works from Gerhard Schacks extensive estate, which he bequeathed to the Hamburger Kunsthalle in 2007, will be shown in the Janssen-Kabinett. An art historian and private scholar, Schack first got to know Janssen in the late 1960s and had a major influence on his artistic development. By discussing and exchanging ideas with Schack, Janssen arrived at themes such as the copy or the depiction of landscape, and explored techniques such as drawing with a reed pen and wash, which he continued to use from then on. Some of these exhibits have never been shown before, and there are a number of surprises and new discoveries, such as a series of portraits of Gerhard Schack and self-portraits by Janssen that are dedicated to Schack. The varying execution and personal inscription of these works document the intensity of their relationship. Also on show for the first time is a selection of experimental variations of Janssens series of etchings Froschland (197073), which mark a high point not only in Janssens etching oeuvre but also in the career of his printer, Hartmut Frielinghaus.
The Hamburger Kunsthalle has the most significant holdings of graphic art by Horst Janssen. Besides Gerhard Schacks fine collection of drawings and etchings, they include a collection of works from the estate of Hartmut Frielinghaus. The Janssen-Kabinett, where Horst Janssens drawings and prints are presented in temporary thematic exhibitions, was established at the Galerie der Gegenwart in 1997. The fundraising group Förderkreis Horst Janssen in der Hamburger Kunsthalle supports the museum in cataloguing the extensive holdings and developing the Horst Janssen Archive, which consists of more than 9,000 works by Janssen as well as extensive documentary material.
Curators of the exhibition: Ursula Sdunnus and Dr. Petra Roettig.