This is the second watercolor painting Svend Keller made of the RAW Chemnitz-Hilbersdorf factory. Unlike the first one in the previouns post, this one is a monochrome in shades of brown. It was painted in 1949.
I like these two paintings a lot, and not just because the artist is my father. In my view, these two paintings show that industrial landscapes can be quite beautiful, although they may be seen as instances of what I have described in my article The Dark Side of Beauty.
A watercolor painting made by Svend Keller (1928 – 2004) in 1948. At this time, Svend Keller was doing an apprenticeship as a graphic artist with his father, Rolf Keller. His life took a different turn though and he did not work as an artist later, but there are some drawings and water color paintings from this time.
The painting is showing the RAW Chemnitz-Hilbersdorf, a repair operation of the “Reichsbahn”, the (East-)German train company. Rof Keller and Svend Keller were living in Chemnitz (later renamed “Karl-Marx-Stadt”, and after 1989 renamed “Chemnitz” again) in Saxony at the time.
A drawing (charcoal and pencil, on paper) made by Rolf Keller and dated “Hamburg, 10. Nov. 45”. Between the date and the signature, you can see Rolf Keller’s logo, a combination of the numbers 2 and 4, referring to the year 1924 when he started his business as a graphics artist and became self-employed. Most of his works from 1924 on carry this sign, except for some sketches. I don’t know what caused the brown stain in the lower left corner, maybe tea or coffee.
The person depicted in this portrait is Rolf Keller’s mother in law, Henriette Dorothea Danker-Hoff, née Hoff, (1871 to 1954), a working-class woman born in the town of Celle and living in Hamburg in later years. Her daughter Margarethe (“Grete”) Danker was Rolf Keller’s wife and my father’s mother, so she is one of my great-grandmothers.
The context of this drawing, showing in the expression of her face, is the destroyed city of Hamburg in the first winter after the war, a time of cold, hunger, sorrow and insecurity.
A print made by German artist Rupert Rosenkranz (1908 – 1991). Rosenkranz developed his own unique printmaking method using PVC printing plates which he treated mainly with heat, resulting in very interesting textures (click on the picture to view it in higher resolution). On the official page (see link) the process is described like this: “PVC Druckplatten werden mit Sticheln und Hitze bearbeitet” (“PVC printing plates are treated with etcher’s needles and heat”). He called this technique “Elektrographie”. However, the electricity was probably only used to heat the tools, maybe soldering irons or even pressing irons, but I don’t know exactly. If you are an artist interested in print making, you might try this out yourself. Rupert Rosenkranz also worked as a painter, painting in a variety of styles.
Besides abstract prints like the one shown here, Rosenkranz also made larger, predominantly non-abstract prints. Personally, I prefer his abstract prints, but all of them are unique because of the interesting textures resulting from his special technique.
Once I visited an exhibition in a private house in Hamburg, I think either in the late 1970s or the early 1980s, where he was selling such prints with motives mainly from the mediteranean and from a trip to the south pacific. He was talking about that trip enthusiastically and was obviously regretting that he was so old already. I remember him saying repeatedly “Das Leben ist viel zu kurz.” (“Life is much too short.”).