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"Theo Garve - Paintings and Coloured Pictures"
1999-12-07 until 2000-04-02
Sprengel Museum
Hannover, , DE Germany

An article on Theo Garve's work in a catalogue produced by the Fach Gallery in Frankfurt in 1994 was headed 'An Expert and Teacher', and justifiably so. Theo Garve was almost unrivalled in the way he embodied and passed on to young West German artists the artistic heritage of the 1920s and early 1930s. Garve's paintings are directly descended from the oeuvre of Max Beckmann and are notable for their clear and generous forms of the objects depicted. His prints display unparalleled mastery. The woodcuts in particular profit from strong black-and-white contrasts and appeal to us with their fine play of light and shade.

The artist was born on 21 November, 1902 in Offenbach. After completing an apprenticeship as an engine-fitter, he attended at first the Offenbach and then the Frankfurt School of Arts and Crafts. His first attempts at painting were influenced by the work of August Macke. Garve was fascinated by the poetry inherent in Macke's use of colour. However, he soon developed into a great admirer of Max Beckmann, and in 1926 ventured to show him a still-life. Impressed, Beckmann enrolled him in his master class at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. There, together with Georg Heck, Garve produced outstanding prints and some large-scale murals, which unfortunately no longer exist. In 1933, Beckmann's class put on an exhibition for a wider public entitled 'Young Frankfurt. However, the new National Socialist regime labelled their work 'degenerate decaying art' and set about 'cleansing' the Städelschule. Beckmann was no longer allowed to teach and his students were dispersed. Garve chose the path of internal emigration, finding support in his friendship to a courageous painter and later art dealer, Hanna Bekker vom Rath. Her 'Blue House in Hofheim in the Taunus region offered shelter to a number of outlawed artists.

In 1937, Garve and Bekker visited the World Exhibition in Paris together in order to see uncensored modern art, especially Picasso's 'Guernica'. In 1941 Garve was called up. After the war, he was entrusted with the refounding of Städelschule. In 1956, he left Frankfurt for Hamburg where he took over the drawing class at the art college or 'Hochschule für Bildende Künste'. During his teaching career, which covered nearly 20 years, Garve put aside his work and painted only during the college vacations. However, in his retirement his work blossomed anew. He travelled around Northern Italy, the Provence and Majorca and the resulting pictures are generous, serene, untroubled landscapes. His final motifs were his house in Hamburg and the plains of the River Alster. Theo Garve died on 20 May, 1987 .


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