Indepth Arts News: |
"Theo Garve - Paintings and Coloured Pictures"
1999-12-07 until 2000-04-02
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
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
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 .