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Friedrich Ahlers-Hestermann

Friedrich Ahlers-Hestermann

*  1883 Hamburg
† 1973 Berlin

Friedrich Ahlers-Hestermann was born 1883 in Hamburg. Despite his family wanted him to become a tradesman, they supported his wish to become an artist after all. Alfred Lichtwark, owner of the Hamburg art-forum recommended Friedrich Ahlers-Hestermann to take art lessons as a pupil of A. Siebelist. Friedrich Ahlers-Hestermann started his lessons in 1900 and was stylistically influenced by Siebelist's predilection for plein air painting. Impressed by the first van Gogh exhibition in Hamburg, Ahlers-Hestermann went to Paris in 1907 and stayed there until 1914. Cézanne's work had a lasting impact on Ahlers-Hestermann after he saw it in Paris. From 1910 Ahlers-Hestermann belonged to the circle of German artists (Purrmann, Moll et al) who frequented the Café du Dôme. His studies at the painting school run by H. Matisse led to the 'Marnelandschaften' ['Marne Landscapes'], an early high point in Ahlers-Hestermann's career. He travelled to Italy, Corsica, England and Russia. In 1913 he met the Russian painter Alexandra Povorina, whom he married in 1916. Ahlers-Hestermann's early work represents a modulated form of Expressionism with emphasis on harmonious form. From 1916 there are also Cubist elements. On his return to Hamburg, Ahlers-Hestermann began to teach at the Koppel Art School in 1918. A year later Ahlers-Hestermann joined the Hamburg Secession and was chairman of the Hamburg artists' association between 1924 and 1930. In 1928 Ahlers-Hestermann was given a teaching post at the Cologne Werkschule under R. Riemerschmid but was forced to leave in 1933 for political reasons. While unable to teach and show work publicly, Ahlers-Hestermann devoted himself to letters. By 1930 he had begun to work by free association, often linked with natural symbolic content. Ahlers-Hestermann's figurative compositions, still lifes and landscapes reveal his characteristic talent for harmonious arrangement of colour, his feeling for the values of distance in relation to colour and a sensitive exploration of the possibilities of translating natural models into an analogous pictorial form. After the second world war Friedrich Ahlers-Hestermann became director of the Landeskunstschule Hamburg, a member of the academies in Hamburg and Berlin and received numerous art awards (Berlin Art Award 1962) and distinctions (Grand Federal Service Cross 1960).