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Hans Purrmann

Hans Purrmann

*  1880 Speyer
† 1966 Basel

Hans Purrmann served an apprenticeship as a house painter in his father's business before beginning his studies at the Karlsruhe School for the Applied Arts in 1897-99, where he met the painter Rudolf Levy. He continued to study during the winter months at the Fine Arts Academy in Munich at first at Gabriel von Hackl's drawing class and then at Franz von Stuck's painter's class. The young Purrmann went to Paris in 1905, where he met Henri Matisse in the circle of German painters in the Café du Dôme. In 1908 and partly at the suggestion of Sarah Stein, he founded the 'Académie Matisse', with Friedrich Ahlers-Hestermann, Franz Nölken and Mathilde Vollmoeller, who would become his wife, as his first pupils. That year Purrmann accompanied Matisse to Germany, where he also spent time twice in 1909/10. The outbreak of the first world war caught him in Beilstein, Württemberg, where he stayed for two years, during which his possessions in Paris were confiscated. Purrmann began to attend to printed graphics until the 1920s. In 1916 he settled in Berlin, where he participated regularly in exhibitions of the ‚Free Secession'. During this period he made friends with Karl Scheffler and worked with him on Scheffler's magazine, 'Kunst und Künstler' ('Art and Artists'). In 1918 the first one-man show took place at Paul Cassirer's gallery in Berlin. At the suggestion of Liebermann and Slevogt, Purrmann was made a member of the Preussische Akademie der Künste (Prussian Academy of the Arts). The academy wanted to appoint him a professorship, but he refused. He also went on several study trips to Italy in the 1920s, where he copied Old Master paintings. In 1931 Purrmann received the order to design the front side of a conference room at the Kreistag in Speyer and he decided in favour of the subject ‚allegory of art and science' in form of a triptych. In 1935 Purrmann moved to Italy where he was honorary head of the Villa Romana in Florence. His art was classified ‚degenerate' in Germany, his works were removed from public museums and he was banned from exhibiting. These facts weakened his position in Florence. Purrmann's flat in Berlin was destroyed in 1943 and, after the fall of Mussolini, the artist fled to Switzerland. He settled at Montagnola in the Ticino, where he made friends with the writer Hermann Hesse. In 1946 the artist resumed his publicist work. The following years were shaped by numerous exhibitions and several honours. On the occasion of his 80th birthday the largest on-man show took place at the Kunstverein Hanover. Hans Purrman died in Basel on 17 April 1966.