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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Karl Hagedorn (both of them)

Barges on the Regent's Canal, 1930, Karl Hagedorn

The Big Wheel, Karl Hagedorn
As a writer and, to a lesser extent, a researcher, I've ranted a few times as to the difficulties and confusion deriving from the fact that two artists sometimes have similar names. Add to that the penchant artists have for changing their names. Worse still, artists sometimes take on pseudonyms thereby painting under two or more different signatures. Confusion abounds. Sometimes I think some international governing authority should grant each professional artist a license with a number which that artist would be required to use in lieu of a signature. Artists, not to mention their gallery agents, would no doubt rebel inasmuch as both work to establish an artist's name, connecting it to a particular style and content in marketing their work. People remember names. Numbers...not so much.
Self-portraits, in silverpoint (upper image) and charcoal
(lower image), Karl Hagedorn
Karl-Hagedorn, 1935,
Randolph Schwabe
Today I came upon two artists, born in Germany, roughly a generation apart. They're both dead now, but they had the exact same names--Karl Hagedorn. If you questioned the strange title at the top, now you know why. Their parents weren't even kind enough to give them different middle initials. In researching them I've had to go out of my way just to (I hope) keep the two artists straight in my notes and in my own mind. Inasmuch as this situation is ripe for possible errors, and con-stantly identifying them by their dates of birth would be rather awkward (akin to assigning each a license number) I've decided to indicate which artist I'm referring to by the color of the text.
The eldest Karl Hagedorn (left) was born in 1889 and died in 1969. His color is orange. The younger Karl Hagedorn (above) was born in 1922 and died in 2005. We'll color him aqua. Though both artists were born in Germany (the elder Karl Hagedorn in Berlin) the younger one in Güntersberge, located in the mountainous Harz region west of Berlin, it's doubtful the two ever met. There was thirty-three years difference in their ages. Moreover, both artist left Germany early in life, the elder Hagedorn in 1905 for Manchester, England. The younger Hagedorn migrated to the United States in 1959, settling in St. Paul, Minnesota. Although an ocean and half a continent apart, they may have known of one another because of their identical names, nationality, and profession, it's likely they viewed the situation as little more than a minor nuisance.

Recovery Stores at a RAOC Depot, Feltham, 1945, Karl Hagedorn
The British Hagedorn (he became a naturalized British citizen in 1914) was educated in Berlin, and at Manchester School of Technology, Manchester School of Art, the Slade School of Fine Art in London, and in Paris, under Maurice Denis. Hagedorn became a leading figure in the Manchester art scene frequently exhibiting at the Society of Modern Painters in that city, and also, from 1913 onwards, at the Royal Academy and the New English Art Club. He served in the British Army during World War I. During World War II, he sold pictures of military subjects to the United Kingdom Government's War Artists' Advisory Committee (above).

Boy Fishing by a Canal, 1952, Karl Hagedorn.
The younger Karl Hagedorn studied at the Munich Academy of Fine arts from 1956 to 1959. While still in Germany, he designed and executed mosaics and murals. In 1959 Karl Hagedorn left Germany for the United States where he worked as a free-lance artist designing stained glass windows. He later became Art Director at the Catholic Digest. From 1960 to 1972 he was a faculty member of St. Paul Art Center before also becoming a faculty member of St. Paul's Hamline University. Having established himself as successful artist, Hagedorn traveled for six months throughout Europe. Upon returning to the United States, he lived and worked in New York for the next sixteen years. He then moved to Philadelphia where he died in 2005. Since 1967 his works have often been exhibited in the United States and Europe.

The Washstand, 1913,
Karl Hagedorn
One might expect that the work of the younger German- American Hagedorn might be in a more modern style than that of his British counterpart. If so, you'd be wrong. The British Hagedorn was of the same generation as Picasso, Matisse, and the Fauves. His early works display Cubist and Futurist influences, although he later adopted a more conventional style. Today, some of his works are in the collections of Manchester City Art Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Imperial War Museum, and the United Kingdom Government Art Collection. Hagedorn died in 1969. An exhibition, "Manchester's First Modernist: Karl Hagedorn 1889-1969," was held at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, in 1994. Only during the latter years of his career did the German-American Karl Hagedorn move toward abstraction.

The German-American Karl Hagedorn and wife with one of his abstract paintings created shortly before his death.
Venice, Karl Hagedorn. Even the so-called
experts get the Hagedorn paintings mixed up.
I've found sources crediting this and other works
to what appear to be the wrong Hagedorns.


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