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Karl Hagedorn (1922-2005)
Born in 1922 in Guentersberge, Germany, Karl Hagedorn was shaped by the time and history he lived through, as well as the geography of where he resided. His hometown was a small village in the mountains of what had previously been the Weimar Republic, Germany. His life was impacted by world history. As he wrote, "The Weimar Republic had given way to the Nazi regime and one's own life was no longer one's own but at the service of the government. Living in the Russian zone, Hagedorn related, "Art became more dream than reality."
He and his family escaped to West Berlin in 1952. In Munich, he became a student at the Art Academy at the age 34. He considered his six years in West Germany (1953-1959) of tantamount importance to the growth of his art. He visited Paris which was a pivotal experience for him, as he came in contact with artists he had previously been unaware of. The Cubists and Surrealists, along with Leger, Picasso, Miro and Matisse were a revelation to him. He wrote, "They jolted my artistic system alive and capitulated me into the mid-20th century with a clearer direction for myself in it."
For a number of years, he designed and executed mosaics, murals, and stained glass windows until he emigrated to the United States. Living in St. Paul, Minnesota, he worked as a free-lance artist and taught at Hamline University and the St. Paul Art Center. His first major solo exhibition was at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis with frequent one man and group shows in the US and Europe from then on.
By 1973 he relocated to New York City and he ultimately connected with the well-regarded Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery on Madison Avenue. He was featured in their "New Talent Show," and at 51 years old received a mention in John Russell's review in the New York Times. He exhibited there for more than 20 years while maintaining close ties to Germany.
He spent the last years of his life with his wife, Diana, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.
"Symbolic Abstraction" was the term Hagedorn used to reference his work, which spanned the 1950s to the 21st century. He employed the mediums of painting, drawing, watercolor and gouache. Through many decades the connective tissue throughout his output was his vivid colors, forms, and shapes.
Selected collections: Brooklyn Museum, Walker Art Center, New York Public Library, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Goethe Institute, Deutsches Museum, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Minnesota Museum of Art, Deutsches Museum/Strobel Collection, Goethe Institute, Hamline University, University of California, San Francisco and the University Gallery, University of Minnesota.